Get a grip

Life is often about getting a grip on things.

When you are young you hold things very tightly. Your mothers hand, the handlebars on your first bike, the steering wheel of your first car.

I still remember the training of learning to ride a bike. Mom pushing like crazy, yelling at me to peddle and steer, and pretty soon you are flying down the street. That is until you look backwards and see Mom isn’ there any more. That was the day I met the curb for the first time but not the only time.

At fifty somethings have changed and others haven’t. You can get stuck looking back and forget to look forward. There are all kinds of curbs in life. And you can grip things too tightly; your kids, your career, your health and your reputation.

You grip to tight you are bound to hit the curb. And your mom isn’t always going to be there pushing, and at fifty that is the way it should be.

So I have learned to peddle hard when you need to, coast when you can, and don’t hold on too tight and for goodness sake keep looking forward.



Pick up Sticks

My game playing as a kid consisted of games like pick up sticks, War, Go fish, Lego and my personal favorite, “Hands up Harry”. He was a cowboy and if you shot the dart in the right place his pants fell down.

We live in a generation of video games, a lot about killing and saving the world. I watched a five year old play Grand Theft Auto on his PSP a few weeks back. I wondered what he was learning about game playing. How is he going to relate games to life? I shudder to think. It strikes me now that I sound like an ‘old’ fogey..those young people and their games; sitting in front of a t.v. all day.

The truth is my grand father probably thought sitting around playing pick up sticks was a waste of time. Anything that wasn’t work, except for beer, was a waste of time.

At Fifty the games we played can teach us a lot about life. Games like Pick up sticks, it takes a lot of skill and you can screw up real quick but you start again. The game OPERATION, clearly defined the fact that I wasn’t going to be a surgeon, who wants to work with a naked, fat guy who every time you make a ‘mistake’ his nose lights up? And Lego, you build, you tear down, and build again.

Life is a lot like the games we play. Fun, challenging and we can learn a lot.


Toasterheads and other foibles

A friend of mine once commented on my head, noble as it is, as technically being a ‘toaster head’.  A tag applied to premature babies whose heads are not fully formed on exiting the factory. Apparently with twins and being in an incubator the ‘towel’ didn’t get tightened as much as it could and to be honest I weighed four pounds and change at birth.

The first two months were like Finding Nemo. Imagine two of us that tiny in an ‘aquarium’ “gosh those are cute little clown fish”..NO they are humans. “wow I can see their gills moving’..THOSE are humans. So we left the incubator ‘fully formed’ kinda..undeveloped lungs, mushy toaster heads, and a strapping 6 lbs each.

Over the years as you age you notice your limitations. I can’t run as fast or as far. I ache in places I don’t want to ache. My hair took a vacation and never came back. What it that spot on my face? You wake up early, or you sleep more. All changes that come with age.

At fifty I have reconciled things are not going to change. My head is my head. I hate looking for hats, but I need them now. I sometimes wonder if you can change your head size surgically but then I remember it is not about the size of the head, it is about what is inside, and that keeps changing with new thoughts and experiences. And while you grow old your mind can stay young and your heart light.


Sandbox Diplomacy

First day of school. I survived but it seems like at fifty not much changes in the school yard. I noticed how many friendly cracks from fellow students. After awhile it occurred to me girls say hi or hug; guys seem to express themselves by ‘joking’.

Must have been the jet lag or the long day in school but it started to wear thin. So I thought back to kindergarten again and realized the sandbox was where we learned a lot of social rules.  First, you shared the toys. If not an Third Party Neutral came and intervened. (thanks Mom) Secondly, there wasn’t much space so you didn’t hog the space. Third, don’t touch those ‘kitty logs’..bad kitty.

It was about cooperation and play and enjoying a sunny day. At fifty it seems the sandbox rules have changed. You don’t share toys, you accumulate them. There isn’t much space so you take what you can get and keep it; whether it is a parking space, or food, or real estate. They kitty logs remain constant; don’t touch, don’t tell.

So today I decided to use Sandbox Diplomacy. Share, give, have fun, and leave the kitty stuff where it belongs.


Deja vu all over again

Every parent has sent their  child off to school for the first time.

Anxiety, stress and expectation. Right clothes, right lunch…oh my baby is leaving. We have been there, the porch rushing off to freedom and on the porch, waving good bye in fear. Will he make it? Will they like him? Will he do well? That teacher better be nice to him. I know he is brilliant and will change the world. It is only kindergarten but every mom has a dream.

Today I am on the porch. Backpack full of books. No lunch. Making sure everything matches. Will I make it through the forest to school? Will the teacher be nice to me? Will my classmates still think I am funny? Does my nose looked healed enough? Is my breath fresh?

I am fifty after all. I am off to my MA course in Victoria. You might be five or fifty but the questions aren’t that much different.  And yes somewhere because she reads my blog, my mom will be saying, “I hope he does okay”, “the teacher better be nice to him”( hear that Fred?) and “I know he is brilliant, I hope he gets a job”.

It really is deja vu all over again.


Driving me crazy

Grey power insurance says if you are over fifty and you have a good driving record, we can save you money.

I have been driving for 35 years. No at fault accidents. No speeding tickets. One for unsafe left turn…entirely debatable and a few requisite parking tickets; for Scotsman it is the closest we get to gambling, put money in the meter or not.

I was driving with my brother the other day down an ‘unnamed’ highway lest the police set up a trap for him, and he was driving fast, tail gating and giving commentary. He said, ” My bumpers are small you aren’t used to them”. I said I am worried about your airbags.

We are all guilty of those moments where we think we can instruct the other drivers on how they could improve their driving, for our sake. If they we just less selfish we would get along better. I am not sure why men in particular think giving the finger at 120 kph means anything. Really you might as well use any finger, what difference does it make.

Here is a novel idea for controlling driving, it worked for me. Just after I went on anti depressants I was driving down the highway and someone cut me off and it took so long to react, he was a mile down the road before I could remember which finger was ‘the finger’ to use. Cool I thought these little pills work.

So next time you are driving and the crazy urge comes to talk to someone, correct their driving, lift a finger, just take a pill.



The Cavemen did what?

If it didn’t hit you at forty it will at fifty. You can’t do what you used to do.

When I was 16 I could run a mile in 5m14s, I could bench press 160lbs and I weighed 145…now it is a mile in 16 mins, I weigh 175, and I can press the remote control, ten times in a row. So I decided to take matters into my own hands. I joined CrossFit for 10 weeks.

If you aren’t familiar with CrossFit you are paying for pain and suffering. Don’t believe is their out of the day.Wall Ball (20/14) Kettlebell Swing (24/16) Burpees

If you aren’t familiar with any of those terms count yourself lucky. They are synonyms for suffering. To add to it ‘they’ being Crossfitters preach the Paleo diet. “Eat like the cavemen did, they say”. They ate what was accessible, fruit, nuts..very little meat..apparently dinasours were were hard to catch. So you should eat like a Caveman.

My problem? If their diet was so darn healthy, where are they now? And if you use the logic that they would eat what is accessible and they were alive today..wouldn’t they just stroll down the street and say,” Grog, look Golden Arches”..

So during my ten week trial I fell off the roof of my shed thus ending my experiment with cross fit and the Paleo diet. I may not look like a caveman or eat like one but I am alive and reasonably happy.