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

Senior Flatmates Debut on CBS Morning Show

They found us, and they wanted to interview us, to tell the world that it’s a good idea for people to have non-romantic relationships with other people of their own age, sharing space and adventures.

We were so excited, and so proud—because, after all, we knew it was a great idea from the beginning, and we wanted to spread the word.

Here’s a link to the segment: http://cbsn.ws/1oAGvet

After you view it, we’d love to know what you think about it. As always, we want to hear from you!

I am a New York City girl

I was born and raised in the streets of Brooklyn (East New York), Queens (Cambria Heights) and Manhattan (uptown and down).

I love to tell people that about myself, because they always have a reaction. New York City is a very big deal in this world, and I love that I own a part it. Recently, I met some visitors who wanted me to know how “pleasantly surprised” they were at how nice New Yorkers are–not at all what they expected.

A lot of people say that, and it’s always my cue to make a pitch for my City. “People are always surprised,” I say, “and we’re always surprised at your surprise. I know that if someone needs help and we can see it on the street, we’re there, offering it: subways, maps, restaurants–you name it. If we can travel your way, we’ll be right there alongside you, helping you get around.”

Like most of us, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with this City. It was the only place to live, and it was the first place I ever couldn’t wait to get away from. When my husband was sick, I blamed New York City–who else?–it was so dirty, so low-down. I’ve run away to other states, other cities, even rural New York State, trying to outrun my need for it, and I’ve always come back to it. It’s where I see people most like me in the world, and as I walk its streets, I hear myself talking. Here, I can have the most fascinating conversations with people who are just as curious as I am, and I love that about New York.

This is my first home: photo200 New Jersey Avenue, East New York, Brooklyn. My parents rented the upstairs apartment. I visited the building for the first time last winter. The window above the front door was my little bedroom, my first place of privacy as a little girl. When I showed the photo to my mom (who’s 92), she stared at it and then, slowly, i watched the recognition move across her face. “This isn’t…?” she asked. “It is,” I answered. What followed was an amazing conversation   about her memories of it, her first house as a grownup. It was awesome, as if I had given her a gift of her own past.

Let me know if you’re coming to my town!

Dina

 

 

 

 

Living in the Big Apple – a Dream Come True

In March 2006, I moved from Austin, TX to NYC for a new adventure. I wanted all that NYC could offer. I was 60 years old, single (as in divorced) and I wanted to revel in being in one of the most exciting cities in the world. My parents came from NYC, I’d visited grandparents throughout my child- and adulthood, but I never lived here. I decided to change that status.

It was great fun at first. I made friends easily, took advantage of much of what this City offered. Three-and-a-half years after I arrived, I experienced breast cancer. I was living alone in my own apartment. Friends helped—I’m lucky to be blessed with many—then, when my sublet expired, I had the amazing opportunity to move in with Dina.  It was great to have another person to share things with. That’s also when so much more IMG_0229of my NYC experience really happened.

For example, today, we got up early, went to the first showing of a new movie, then sat outside at a trendy restaurant drinking Bloody Marys and eating brunch. We watched people walk by, caught snippets of conversations from those around us. We talked about the movie, and about spirituality, which was much of its theme. We also talked about what a “miraculous” week this had been for us both.

We both had meetings with people that were interested in our work. We sent out an announcement for a workshop we’re doing together called:  “IT’S TIME TO BECOME WHO I’M MEANT TO BE.” We hope to offer these monthly and grow this curriculum. Read more about the workshop here: https://madmimi.com/p/a04915

Probably the most exciting thing that happened this week was when CBS called us. They are doing a story on boomers sharing living spaces, and they somehow found us! They spent a couple of hours Thursday, and then again Friday, videotaping in our apartment. All this for a 2.5 minute story on CBS Monday Morning sometime between 7:00 and 9:00 a.m. (We’ll be sending links to the interview so you can see it later this week.)

I really love being in NYC. There’s much more I would love to be doing more of, but that will have to wait until we’re “in the money” –more Broadway shows, operas, symphonies. I do them on occasion, but there are also so many free things and so many wonderful neighborhoods to explore, people to meet, etc.

While I did quite a lot when I lived alone, I actually do much more with Dina. We have our separate friends and interests, and we have our areas that overlap, too.

Hats off to NYC … I’m so happy to be here.

Just Lazin’ in a NYC Summer…

images-1 Sorry we haven’t been around much since our last post on June 16th–

we’ve both been traveling and working and just plain loving every minute of this fabulous summer weather. Now, with August, we’re settling in a bit.

We’re starting a new series at this blog. it’s time we got familiar, and you got a chance to get to know us better. In the next few posts, we’ll talk about how each of us came to be in New York City, how we feel about being here, and we’ll share a lot of what we’re doing here.

Ann will start–she came to the City from the farthest away, A–oh, but I should wait and let her tell you all about it herself.

Stay tuned–and keep those cards and letters–ESPECIALLY YOUR COMMENTS–coming.  We love hearing from you!

Dina

 

 

 

Does it get any better than this?

Flatmates, friends, and, now, partners in business……how lucky can you get?

DSC00130

Dina here. About 6 months ago, Ann said, “We should do a workshop together.”  I’ve been “doing” workshops for years—only stopped to write my last book—Ann does them too. So it wasn’t a weird question or anything, but it stopped me short when she asked. We get along really well, we’ve even become friends in the nearly two years we’ve shared our space. But work together?

Each of us has worked for herself for more years than we can even remember. Would we be able to work together?  Should we even risk it?

“Sure,” I said, surprising myself by keeping a promise I made when I moved back to NYC almost 7 years ago: “Say yes to whatever people suggest as a new possibility.” I knew how to say “No,” and I had decided I was tired of keeping my life small. We got to work planning our workshop.

We called it “It’s Time To Become Who I’m Meant To Be,” and we “did” it recently. We started small: four wonderful, smart, interesting and talented people. We met over bagels and coffee; I led an exercise on listening. Ann introduced her 7 1/2 reinvention steps. I led a brainstorm about leadership; she gave an assignment and they reported back. After lunch, everyone had a chance to take the “Hotseat.” We ended with Prosecco and intense dark chocolate, then hugs all around as we sent our participants back out into the world, inspired by declaring who they are meant to be and what is possible for them.

As we talked about it afterward, Ann and I realized how fortunate we are to do this work that we love:  to be present at the moment someone sees how he or she can fulfill on who she truly is, what he has to offer the world. We sent them home with armsful of goodwill and good work remembered, as they went off to make their dreams come true.

Same for us.