Talking…finally….

“I’ll talk about it,” I said. “I’ll blog about it, every day.”

That was my intention. My father, at 93, was preparing to die, and I knew from the past that being present at the dying of a person you love means something in this world. When my husband died, and my beloved aunt years before him, I learned much about what it means to be a human being.

Don’t get me wrong. The sadness and the painfulness of loss are profound. This is not about that. This is about a window that opens in the room where a person is dying. A window that brings a different air from the other side. You have to be there. How could I not share that with you?

I didn’t talk. I didn’t blog. it was, after all, too intimate, too personal for social media. Only now, almost two months after my father died–I imagine he left through that window–am I able, perhaps, to tell what happened, and what I know now.

So far, I can tell you this: I felt honored to be present at my father’s dying, even as I felt helpless to make his life easier through all the days and nights and weeks of his leaving.

He helped me learn, though, as he had through our life together. I learned that we are safe in the Universe, that death is leaving here and going there, where there are others who also love you. They help you prepare to go. Don’t be fooled by endless speculations that death is anything other than that.

There’s more to tell, so much, much more. Maybe I’ll talk it soon.

Dina

 

 

 

 

I Think It May Be Spring …. Finger’s Crossed.

imagesWow, what a Winter we have had in the North East. Now, to be fair, NYC has it easy in comparison. The tall buildings block large build-ups of snow. But, navigating the sidewalks, the street corners (with all the snow that’s plowed built up there) … now that’s a challenge. In case you’ve never been here: We are on foot. Most of us who live here don’t have cars, so we’re taking buses and subways and walking. I LOVE that, in the Spring, Summer and Fall. But, in the Winter it’s a bit treacherous and scary, for me.

Dina’s more of a trooper than I am.  She’s a born and bred New Yorker who has lived with cold weather in various places all her life. I, on the other hand, spent more of my life in warm climates – Miami til I was 24 and then later, 20 years in Austin. Of course, there were those 12 years in Chicago (but I was younger) and now it’s been 9 years in NY.

It was great to be stuck in the apartment many a night with my flatmate. We cooked dinners together, watched old movies. When we needed time to work or pursue our own interests, we retreated to our own rooms. I can often remember times living alone where I got bored, even depressed in the Winter. That didn’t happen this year or even the last two, since we’ve been sharing our space.

I had some trips, pleasure- and work-related. I went to Austin in November to visit my son. It was still warm there. Then, I went to Syracuse, NY, Toronto and Pittsburgh. Each of those … well, do I need to explain? I’m ready for warmth.

With Spring coming, how about we all start thinking of what’s next? Are there some new projects you want to explore? Are there some new work opportunities? Is it time to start working out more or eating healthier? Is there a trip you want to take or a continent you want to explore? Spring is a time of blossoming and blooming.

As for me, I’m starting some new teleclasses for people that have been through cancer and now want to reinvent themselves. I’m also partnering with someone to run new weekend workshops on Identifying your Genius. Oh, and I’m volunteering more for the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network. I love what I do and often have so many ideas that I can’t focus. However, new things always come my way.

New York in the Winter … and Some Reflections

Ann here. I’m straddling two beliefs about Winter. One is how beautiful it is, especially on a first snow day, like today. The second is how freezing and uncomfortable it is.

When the weather channel announced we would have snow today, I was excited. Having lived much of my life NOT in Winter places, I’m still always excited by snow. It’s white, soft, lovely. I remember the very first time I saw snow. I was 24 years old (having grown up in Miami). I was like a kid, running to catch flakes on my tongue and yes, of course, lying down to make angels.

So, this morning, when it began to snow, I put on some warm clothes, snow boots and went outside to walk to the grocery store. I figured I should stock up on some extra food because we’ll be dropping to the single digits in the next couple of days. Might want to hunker down for a bit. I walked, slowly, those couple of blocks. It was crunchy and very white.

Now, it’s early afternoon, and as I look outside, I see the slush already in the street, much of it melted and run over. There’s still some white snow on the cars. By later today it will either be all gone or will have turned to ice.

The last two weeks, I took most of the holiday season off … to rest, reflect, regenerate myself. I feel more ready to face this new year, where challenges are already in place, concern about directions are already worrying me … BUT, seeing the snow, realizing how peaceful it makes me, helps me feel more prepared. In normal / warmer times, I feel antsy and want to be out and about. I think sometimes that is to avoid being with my thoughts. Winter forces me to be more with myself … more reflective. For some reason, now, that’s creating calmness rather than anxiety.

IMG_1303Wishing you warmth and safety wherever you are.

 

Some Thoughts on the End of 2014

It’s been a challenging year. Dina has been watching the deteriorating health of her elderly parents. She’s also had less time to deal with her writing and other projects.

I have had some challenges around having enough work to keep me at the earning level I’m used to and need.

There are a few more examples of the “not so good” experiences. However, boring you with that isn’t helpful nor is it positive for moving forward. So, let’s take a look at how we, the flatmates, deal with these times.

1.     We support each other through them. I’m a support to Dina with her parents and even visit them with her, make recommendations, etc.

2.     Dina brainstorms with me about ideas for building business or at the very least offers herself as a sounding-board, to help me say things out loud.

3.     We often take ourselves out to a nice Happy Hour, where wine and food are affordable, and we can have a great time “away”.

4.     We also cook together, sit for a nice meal and sometimes go to movies together.

5.     We always check in to see how the other is doing and if we have any needs.

6.     We are considerate, give each other space as needed.

7.     We watch tv together and laugh or cry (depending on what we are watching.)

8.     We get annoyed (as in pissed off) when we watch the news and have been known to swear and yell at the newscasters. This is quite fun for us.

Now, I’m sure there are many other things we offer one another, but these come to mind. The point of this discussion is that two heads are better than one. When on our own, we don’t think of all the possibilities, the scenarios. However, when we discuss together, we see a much wider set of options. We see past each others’ “blindspots.”

If you don’t have the chance to be living with another person, we hope you have that very close friend or loved one who is there in similar ways.

Lastly, since today IS the last day of 2014, I hope you will take a bit of quiet time and look within about what has worked and what has not worked this past year. Then, go one step further and make a list of what you are grateful for. Finally, if you’re ready, put down a few bullet points about some steps to take in the first quarter of 2015.

We both wish you all a very Happy New Year.

Holidays in NY with the Flatmates

We realize it’s been awhile since we’ve posted. We offer you apologies for that. Dina and I have been a bit bombarded these last couple of months.

Our posts about living together is a labor of love, but sometimes takes a back seat to our daily and work routines.

However, it’s important to celebrate the season.

In the past couple of weeks, we’ve had a dinner party (with 4 guests, of varying ages), a gathering of women, dear friends with whom we share spiritual growth, and opportunities to hang out. We’ve enjoyed the scenery of NYC … this great, beautiful city.

On the not so light side, we’ve been dealing with the declining health of Dina’s Dad. He’s hanging on, but at 94 there’s only so much to do.

On the bright side, my son and his girlfriend sent gifts for Christmas and for an early birthday. My birthday is January 1st. Can you believe, I’ll be 69. Yikes … next one will be age 70.

Another bright moment came yesterday when our previously aired segment about Boomer Roomies was re-televised on CBS Morning News. We got lots of attention (again) and love hearing from you all. If you’d like to see the excerpt, it’s here:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/boomer-roommates-growing-number-of-older-americans-share-homes/

Meanwhile, from our hearts to yours, please have a wonderful Christmas and may 2015 be your BEST year ever.

No matter what is going on, take time to smile, laugh a bit, make someone happy, do something nice for others … AND take very good care of yourself.

Best regards,

Dina and Ann

IMG_1242_2 IMG_1239_2

Oh, The Conversations We Have

If you were eavesdropping in the Senior Flatmates’ apartment, you would hear Dina and me having the most amazing conversations. There are some we have often:

How are our businesses doing and how can we grow them?

How are Dina’s parents, 93 and 94, doing and how can we help them?

How are Ann’s son, Gabriel, and his band doing? He’s the lead singer and they are just breaking through.

How can we meet more men and “grow” our social relationships?

And, of course, politics, which includes random yelling at the television, telling them what we “really think.”

And then there are our other, deeper conversations—the ones we truly love.

We’re both committed to being our best selves. We strive to live lives of meaning and purpose.  This morning, over yoghurt and fruit, Dina shared a realization that she is living true to her values, an insight she gained from the book she’s writing, on consciousness. Talking, we both saw how much we have grown, how we live our lives congruently with what we believe in: empowering ourselves and others to identify and live into what they most value.

With Thanksgiving coming, we are indeed blessed. We work for ourselves. We do work we respect, and we make a difference. Hopefully, we will leave a legacy of good work behind us. We wish no less than that for all of you.

Ann

End of a perfect day

Here’s how it went down: The Flatmates, after hours spent savoring the victory of The Climate March, wended their weary way  home. We had a nice dinner and settled into Sunday night.

I called my parents, 93 and 94, to check in. They didn’t answer their phone; their answering machine had obviously been turned off. By the 5th hour of trying, i was arguing with myself.

In the cab, Ann and I talked about what we might find there. Two intrepid Flatmates, trying to do the right thing, acknowledging their anxiety and trying to make a plan—just to “steel” ourselves against the unknown.

My father was sitting on the couch in the dark—he didn’t know I was there until I turned on the light. My mother was asleep in bed. Nearly completely deaf, she sensed something going on, so she soon came out, in a panic that I had come to deliver bad news.

We ended up sitting around the dining room table, waiting for the car to come to take us back to Manhattan. All’s well that end’s well. I know they say that old age is not for “sissies” (whatever that means), but caregiving, my friends, is no more so, either. I can tell you that!

A Chance To Get Away Does the Heart Good

In keeping with our current theme of  TIPS for sharing housing, here’s yet another one.

One of the things that really makes the Senior Flatmates situation work for us is that we get time away from each other. I remember when I was married. I often needed a break to be on my own. Lucky for me, I traveled to speak around the country, so I often got that break. I was always pretty independent, traveled when young and needed alone time. My husband was more of a homebody.

Dina and I both love to travel. She has friends upstate and visits for long weekends. She also travels out of state or country. I visit Austin where my son is frequently and travel for my work.

I relish my time on my own when Dina is gone as does she.

So, why is this important? “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” they say. I’m very used to having Dina to talk with at the end of the day. I miss that and thus, appreciate it more when I return. I know she feels the same. It’s like having best girlfriends to share everything with.

Another reason it’s important for me is because I get a bit crabby sometimes and need a break. I definitely don’t want my crabbiness to come out on her.

Lastly, I know that when I get away, I have a chance to see the world (and my life) newly or differently. I always come back emotionally refreshed, even if physically tired.

In that vein, right now, we are in the midst of separate travel. Dina is visiting friends for the weekend. I am flying out this afternoon for an eight day trip abroad … a new adventure.

It’s a good thing there’s WIFI around the world. We will definitely keep in touch with each other.

Remember, a bit of time away doesn’t need to be long or costly. You can go to a little B&B for a night in a nearby place that is pretty and relaxing or that is bustling. You get to choose.

 

 

Honesty and Sharing — Key to Success

In our last post, you were invited to begin the conversation with us on how to create your own Senior Flatmates experience. While we aren’t in the business of creating matches, we are inviting you to comment and ask away. Let’s discuss it.

Some people wonder how we get along all the time. We’ve said that we don’t fight, or argue. Here’s the answer — we are incredibly honest in our conversations with each other. Think about it this way: If you’ve had a spouse, or children or parents, or friends, or co-workers (so that should include everyone) what has probably sustained the relationship(s) has been your ability to speak up. The key to sharing what you’re thinking, however, is how you say what you need to say.

Neither Dina nor I are ever rude to one another. We might question what one of us might be doing or we might disagree, but it’s all done with respect and not with judgment. So, in your process of thinking about co-housing, getting down in the beginning with HOW you want to talk with each other is Key. I learned early on about myself that I’m  probably the most sensitive person I know. I cry at the drop of a pin. If you look at me sideways or raise an eyebrow in judgment, I retreat. Dina knows that and has from the very beginning. She, on the other hand is stronger than that and I know I can say whatever I want to her and she will take it well.

So, how can you ask a potential flatmate about their preference in how to be spoken to or with? Well, that’s simple … just ask.

• Are you a sensitive person?

• How do you like to receive feedback?

• Can I trust you to be kind and gentle in your requests of me?

These are conversation starters for opening up. We wish you well and invite your questions and comments.

15 Minutes

Well, we had our “15 minutes of fame,” and now we’re back to work.

Since our recent appearance on the CBS Morning Show, so many of you have written to ask us all sorts of things that we’ve decided to take the Flatmates on the road. Starting today, we’re going to be answering your questions, giving you tips about how to find that special someone, what kinds of questions to ask, how to protect your own, best interests, and much, much more.

In fact, we’ll be talking a lot about your questions—we want to make sure you are completely confident you are respecting your own interests from the very start. Having a great Flatmate is an easy, fun and very happy road to travel—and so much of how it goes depends on your being sure you’ve said everything you need to in advance: verbally and in writing, about how you want it to go. Your new Flatmate will appreciate that, too, because, by opening that conversational door, you’ll be showing the way to do the same.

So here’s our first tip: Start out honest. This is who I am. This is what I’m looking for. These are my parameters. It will be great practice for you, and it will make your household much happier every day. We’re going to get much more specific as we go along.

If you didn’t get to ask your questions before, now’s the time. Senior Flatmates of the world, we’re out to change that old world of living in isolation!

Dina and Ann

BTW, here’s the link to CBS Show, if you missed it:  CBS Morning Show