Go Gray or Gogh Home

Go Gray or Gogh Home

I used to have art skillzzzz. I mean, I’m not gonna brag, but I painted some epic still lifes with acrylic paints in 6th grade. My specialties were fruit bowls and flowers lol. Just feast your eyes on this exact replica:

 Georgia O'Keefe 1928

Georgia O’Keefe 1928

 Shelly Zemrose 1992

Shelly Zemrose 1992

Okay, so maybe I’m not the next Michelangelo, but not too shabby for an 11 year old, right? While I started off STRONG, unfortunately, I peaked in middle school and it’s been all stick figures since. BUT, there’s a silver lining (2 guesses why I love that expression). I luckily remained quite “crafty”……..in more ways than one ;o)….. *shhhh don’t tell my husband* muahaha.

For example, I’m pretty good at stuff like making jewelry, decorative wreathes, posters, etc.  It may not land me an art exhibit, but hey, it ties in swimmingly with my Grandma persona! p.s. LITERALLY as I’m writing this sentence at Starbucks, the senior ladies next to me just mentioned crocheting and discussed cleaning out their “yarn stashes” to make room for the new stuff. And I’m thinking, where’s my invite ladies?! So yeah, we elderly and wannabe elderly folks love our crafts. Don’t hate.

While I enjoy crafting (cuz I mean I can take those twigs off your tree and whip you up a vase that would rock your tablescape), I might enjoy buying crafts even more. Which is exactly why I attended/dragged my husband and mother to the local “Flower & Garden Festival.” It’s the perfect place to roll around a wagon and buy a new set of ferns; it’s also the perfect place to check out random goodies my husband doesn’t want me to buy and that I probably don’t actually need. Luckily for MEEEEE, and unluckily for HIM, I came upon the Promised Land/Stand:

  Too cute to caption.

Too cute to caption.

Where do I start?!??!?! THE NATURAL MATERIALS. THE RUSTIC FRAMES. THE CREATIVITY. THE PROCESS. THE ARTISTRY. THE MR. GRAY BEHIND THE FRAMES. It was almost too much for me to handle. And then, Mr. Gray tells me HOW he makes these masterpieces and I was like:

                        I LOVE YOU MAN

I LOVE YOU MAN

Every single piece of material in his artwork is from nature. Scenes of nature, using nature. MIND BLOWN. He scrapes moss and bark off trees. He uses pieces of honeycomb, flowers, whatever he can find and uses the natural colors and textures to create these gems. People were buying these things up like hotcakes and I got right in line/cut the line! Even though our house is mostly decorated, I HAD to find some way to incorporate his genius into our home. Then it dawned on me: future baby room decorrrr, hollaaa! (Never too early to plan ahead and hey, I’m connecting the generations). Anywho, I started out with 1 and ended up with 5 :oDDD

                                                                                                                        More is more.                                                                                                                         More is more.

Now for some close ups:

              Those are birds made of corn husks ya'll

Those are birds made of corn husks ya’ll

                  Twigs and flowers and pebbles, oh my!

Twigs and flowers and pebbles, oh my!

  I don't even know what those cows are made of, but I do know it's au naturale!

I don’t even know what those cows are made of, but I do know it’s au naturale!

As I was carefully selecting these gems, Mr. Gray would tell me the source of each piece of material, sometimes with a story about it; he was so passionate about his work and it really made the art that much more priceless. It was so intriguing to me that he took things in life that are often overlooked like bark, moss, cotton, poppyseeds, etc. and turned them into something of beauty and value.

I’m feeling (“Phil-ing”) an analogy coming in the air tonight:

Don’t many of us do that with elderly folks? They are just there in the background (where I argue, our society has put them) and we under-appreciate them and often, don’t even see them. However, with some attention, they totally come to life and contribute to a more beautiful society. 

Because I too fall prey to the “background” stereotype of the elderly, Mr. Gray surprises me time and time again with his abilities. This was one of those moments. Beyond the unique creativity and talent, it was also clear that the process to make these artworks requires some level of physicality- to search through the woods of West Virginia for the materials and gather them. That puts my pilates classes to shame!

So, until we meet again Mr. Gray….

For today, you’ve out-crafted me in more ways than one. ;o)

Gray Pledge

There’s No Place Like Home

There’s No Place Like Home

 

 

5th grade. Age 10. A young girl pencils her full name: “Shelly Zemrose” into her bedroom closet. Next up – the window sill – several times just to be safe. She’s about to leave her childhood home, FOR-EV-ER. She wants it to stay a part of her and she most certainly wants everyone to know…it was hers first

Yeah you may think I’m embarrassed to admit I wrote my name about 20 times in the old bedroom of my first house in Alexandria, Virginia. But no, no I’m not. In fact….

I. WOULD. DO IT. AGAIN. Just doubledogdare me. 

Why? Because I am super nostalgic, an old soul, and just a little bit weird. Well, a lot a bit. (stalking Mr. Gray isn’t necessarily “the norm”…………..yet. *evil smirk*) 

But in my own defense here, homes mean a lot to people if you’ve lived there for a good while. I mean, memories were made there. It’s the place that keeps you grounded when things are shaky. It’s familiar. It’s comfortable. Where do you want to go after a rough day? Home. It’s also a place for laughter. It has that perfect spot for the Christmas tree where kids have opened gifts year after year. It’s where family has gathered around the dining room table every Thanksgiving- bickered and made up again. The good, the bad, and the ugly — it’s just human nature to love “home.” 

Mr. Gray is no exception. At age 10 I was devastated to leave my home and go to a new place. Now put yourselves in Mr. Gray’s orthopedic shoes (hey don’t knock ’em till you try em) and you’ve lived somewhere for 10, 20, maybe 40-50 years and then  —- you’re forced to MOVE. And often to a place where you don’t want to go aka a nursing hell (excuse me I meant nursing “home”) and downgraded to a shoebox-sized room with a roomate. SUNDAYFUNDAY!!!!! I mean, just look at the bright side Mr. Gray:

Seriously, this sucks for seniors, and it happens all the time for a variety of reasons: necessity i.e. the family can’t care for Mr. Gray anymore OR Mr. Gray can’t afford his home anymore OR Mr. Gray is simply in the way of progress. Here’s a little “uncool” story of the latter to show you how this type of situation goes down on the regular:

So my hubby, Abe, is a retirement planner and together we co-own the business. We specialize in seniors, so I mean, that works for me ;o) Well, recently, one of our lovely clients, age 75, emailed us and was reaching out to Abe for advice. She was concerned and I would venture to say, frightened, of getting kicked out of her apartment. Here’s a snippet:

“I have a possible dilemma regarding the apartment complex I live in. There has been a change of management company for my complex. They are handling affordable renting now and as such have a maximum income that you can have […] My income alone would not be a problem but they also want to see any assets. This would put me over the maximum […] I do not know what to expect in terms of whether I would be able to stay here even though I have been here for 26 years. On the other hand if you try to rent in the normal rent market, I do not have enough income to qualify and they will not consider savings […] So this leaves me wondering what in the world am I supposed to do. Can you help me figure out what to do.”

Uhhh, talk about stuck between a rock and a hard place – except the rock is your HOME and the hard place is OUT ON THE STREET. Dude. It’s like, does anyone give a *BLEEP* about what happens to this elderly woman? Let me provide the short answer, NOPE. It’s all about the moneymoneymoneymoney. Who cares if this woman has lived in her home forever and would have nowhere to go?! 

And no, this isn’t all folks — as another despicable example, I recently read in the paper (yes I’m in my mid 30’s and enjoy a tangible newspaper LOL) about a Washington D.C. apartment complex where many seniors had been living for years and was being turned into college housing. Off with the old on with the new! And BONNNUUUS, handicapped accessible doors are perfect for moving in those beer pong tables!! 

NO. NO. and NO. 

 Cuzzzzz...ya DO building owner people.

Cuzzzzz…ya DO building owner people.

Shoot, if people nowadays are forced to change cell phone providers, it’s WWIII, but I guess displacing Mr. Gray is totes acceptable as long as more money is to be made and forward progress. Well what about the fact that HE set the stage for us, created the infrastructure, fought in the wars to protect our buildings. Without Mr. Gray, we very literally, wouldn’t exist, but ya know, he’s past his prime now — old, slow, and wrinkly–so BUHbye. 

Mr. Gray deserves his home, or at the very least, the CHOICE to stay in his home. When he can no longer stay in his home due to needing more care, and it’s time for an assisted living or skilled nursing facility, that’s one thing (and for another blog post!), but there are so many cases where Mr. Gray is able and willing to stay. 

Most of us couldn’t even handle being booted off of Facebook, so I think it’s only reasonable to stop booting Mr. Gray out of his house. LET MY PEOPLE STAY!!!

 

 

 

Mr. Gray is Tech Savvy

Mr. Gray is Tech Savvy

 

I had a major first world problem a few months ago. I mean I couldn’t eat, sleep, breathe, or do life…

 

Yup, laptop was out of commission. You know when pop-up windows come at your screen Whac-a-mole style? It was a typical viral infection of the worst kind- the one that infects your technology. And even though I do own a desktop, I did what any normal 35 yr old independent woman would do: I ignored the issue for several months and used my husband’s laptop instead. 

I mean, who the heck wants to pack up their laptop, drive the whole 30 minutes to the Apple Store, and sit there for what seems like hours to do something so UNfun?!?! But after a few months, I finally put my big girl pants on (aka my non-yoga pants) and decided to head to the store. Actually, I probably did have yoga pants on because I mean you have to be comfortable when you wait longer than 5 minutes for something that doesn’t result in food. So I packed up the ole sick laptop and in another self-demonstration of “females rule the world I don’t need a man I can do it myself”, I dragged my husband Abe with me for moral support.

When we rolled up in the Apple Store on a Saturday (not a Tuesday for you rap lovers), it was shall we say “overcrowded.”  This was the sequence of events:

  They must be giving something away. Here goes nothin...  They must be giving something away. Here goes nothin…

  Hubby and I part the sea of consumers Moses meets Ninja Warrior style. We workout sooooo.....  Hubby and I part the sea of consumers Moses meets Ninja Warrior style. We workout sooooo…..

  We meet blue man group.

We meet blue man group. “Hey, hey guys, we’re smarter than you. How can we help you lowly computer-inept souls?”

So the blue shirt dude takes my name down and tells me it will be 1.5 hours. Come on blue man, I’ve got things to do like watch Narcos on Netflix!! *eye roll*

My husband and I grab empty stools, but for some reason sat at 2 different tables. Sometimes you need your space ya know? Unless of course you’re 75 plus, then it’s you + me = koalas on a tree!  

After 10 minutes of mindlessly scrolling on our phones, this day does a zippydedooda 180! Mr. Gray comes into the store like an angel in grandpa jeans. First thought: A senior in an Apple Store?? My curiosity was peaked. It was like an animal out his habitat narrated by the Crocodile Hunter (bet ya just said that again to yourself in his Aussie voice). Second thought: WHY THE HEEECK did he just sit down next to my husband instead of me??!!?!?

“Dear Mr. Gray, he can’t love you like I love you.”

But theeeeen, I thought this is kind of a dream of mine- a marrying of two loves- how poetic. My oooey gooey emotions took over as I gazed upon them: 

 

  Have you ever seen something so beautiful in your life? I was basically the Bachelorette handing out the final rose...  Have you ever seen something so beautiful in your life? I was basically the Bachelorette handing out the final rose…

 

When logic took over I quickly switched tables, honed in on Mr. Gray and his Macbook, and tried to get to the bottom of all this with an awkward conversation: 

Me: “Hey I’m Shelly. Come here often?”

Gray: “Yeah, I do. Here’s my name, number, address, and let’s hang out every Sunday for bingo and oatmeal. There will be many more of me there!”

Me: “OMG love to!” 

Okokokkkkkkkkk this is how the convo actually went: 

Me: “Hi I’m Shelly. Are you here to get your computer fixed?”

Gray: “No, I’m just taking a class.”

Me: “Oh, wow I didn’t know they offered classes.”

Gray: “Yeah, I’ve taken them before. They are really good. This ones about……”

I could go on sharing my stalkerish banter, but lemme just summarize: Mr. Gray is a retired pilot (he even gave me his card for proof and it had a plane on it, so I mean, that’s official in my mind). Besides his impressive flying knowledge, he rocked on his laptop. I was watching him open windows and do all this fancy jazz with the icons- up, down, all around.  

“I realized quickly that this 80 yr old gentleman knew way more than me about operating his laptop. Mr. Gray clearly had his tech shhhh*** together. ”

I didn’t know if I was feeling embarrassed about my lack of skills or that I underestimated what Mr. Gray could do. Now I was pressed AND impressed. Things were going swimmingly.

Then blue man busted back in my space and totally killed the vibe. I mean don’t you have to save the world or something??!? He asked my husband and I to move since that table was for the technology class. What is this “Mean Girls?” You can’t sit with us! UHHH, NOOOOO SIR NO. Don’t you understand I’m in my happy place right now? That my husband’s seat choice was fate designed by Zeus and Aphrodite and what other Greek-ish names I can’t remember from 9th grade mythology class? So I of course smiled and said “sure” hoping he would be sidetracked by some shiny iphone. He was. So back to my blind day-date with Mr. G….

We chatted more about his piloting career, etc. I even let Abe get a few words in (that’s a rarity for me but I was surprised he was engaging in the discussion). Clearly, I’m making great progress towards building my husband’s senior obsession…….kinda like I did with my cat, Prince. Abe always hated cats and for a few years would toss him off the couch…but nooooowww…it’s all excuse me cutesy paw games and fur kisses. Think I’m winning the war on both fronts. p.s. I hope he doesn’t read this. Sorry babe cat’s out of the bag about your new love for cats (pun intended ;o)) 

At long last, boy blue comes out from his supertech lair and gives me my just-like-new laptop. Although I knew this meant it was the end of today’s encounter with Mr. Gray, his class was gettin’ started and who am I to get in the way of this computer wiz? So, as I clung to his pilot card, Abe and I bid Mr. Gray adieu with the realization:

Age is just a number when it comes to computers, and if you ever need yours fixed, take a number and prepare to age. ;o)

 

 

Mr. Gray Say

Mr. Gray Say

Confucius Say

  1. Man who jump off cliff, jump to conclusion!
  2. Man stuck in pantry have ass in jam.
  3. When called an idiot, better to be quiet than open mouth and remove all doubt.
  4. Man who eats photo of father, soon spitting-image of father.
  5. Man who pushes piano down mineshaft get tone of A flat miner.
  6. Man who drop watch in toilet have shitty time.
  7. Man who eat many prunes get good run for money.
  8. Virginity like bubble: one prick, all gone.
  9. Woman who wear jockstrap have make believe ballroom.
  10. Man who take sleeping pill and laxative on the same night will wake up in deep shit.

Hahaha I love these! I mean. These MAY embody Confucius’ best advice of all time (second to saying people should respect their elders, of course). 

I don’t know about you, but when I think of Confucius I always think of: long white beard; old; wise; Chinese. Essentially, Mr. Gray with an Asian flair….i.e. this image:

When I look at this photo I definitely think, yeah that dude knows some sh#*!). (My apologies, that was very PG-13 of me). But seriously, if he tells me “Hello Shelly – ’tis better to take the straight and narrow path” then slap my ruby slippers on me because I’m skipping down that road fo sho. 

Now, I’d venture to say that if the image we have of Confucius was instead, of a young strapping 20 something:

  I'm like, wise and stuff. 

I’m like, wise and stuff. 

….I don’t think society would have turned him into a “thing”, i.e. Confucius memes. But what’s the obvious differentiating factor here that would impact this? A to the G to the E. AGE! 

Ya mon: you need the GRAY to back the SAY. 

We have long connected wisdom to seniors and in some countries, they are highly valued because of it. For example, in most Asian countries (go Asia go Asia) Mr. Gray is treated like GOLD — kept, collected, protected, cherished. In the U.S. (you’re totes slackin’ here red, white, and blue), Mr. Gray is treated more like a rusty iron, used, brittle, ready to break and be replaced.  If you ask me, the U.S. is crazytown, because seniors can drop knowledge like Beyonce dropped “Lemonade.” They know so much!!!

This may not be as sophisticated as Confucius, but the OG Mr. Gray (i.e. my grandpa) knew how to fix every health ailment with one magical drink.

Prunce juice.

Hey don’t knock it ’till you try it. Seriously though, every time I had a stomach ache, constipation (oh, don’t be bashful), etc., he would tell me to drink prune juice and was like Mr. Gray in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” was with windex: PRUNE JUICE FIXES EVERYTHIIIIING!  Now, being the old woman I am and always was, I actually liked prune juice at age 10, BUT, I wasn’t necessarily thrilled to drink it every time he recommended it. However, most times, it did the trick and all was well again in the world. 

We all have things like that from our grandparents, older folks around us, right? I bet if you thought about it right now you could think of one you’ve heard of that’s worked for you. READY GO! For example, activated charcoal is a trendy (and effective) thing now to take if you think you ate something with a bad bacteria because it binds to it and out it goes! News to me, but senior citizens already knew that. 

You just googled activated charcoal, didn’t you?

Well, anywho, I mentioned that to my dad recently after he had food poisoning and he was like “uh DUUUUH Shelly, my mother used to burn potato skins to make a charcoal slurry and give to it to Bernie (my uncle) when he was sick back in the day” (My dad doesn’t talk like that, for the record ;o)). But clearly he knew what was up. And to make me feel even more like an idiot, I thought, “Did my dad just say ‘slurry’ when he meant to say ‘slurpee.’ What the heck is a slurry?!?! Oh man I was old-schooled that day. 

But the wisdom Mr. Gray has goes far beyond little tidbits. It’s deep and vast like the ocean— love, relationships, finances, spirituality, even happiness. Luckily for us, Mr. Gray loves to share his knowledge! And thank goodness because us young folks need it like we need to breathe air whether we’ve realized it yet or not.

Recently, Mr. Gray sent me his “5 Pillars of Life” that he believes are the key to living a happy, fun-filled life. Literally, this 66 year old I don’t really know took likely hours out of his day to create a document (a GOOGLE DOC – see my “Tech Savvy” entry) to share this life experience with me….to share with all of you! I was honored, flattered, and mostly thankful, because who doesn’t want the key to happiness?!

Sprinkle it ON USSS! 

Drumroll please………..Mr. Gray’s 5 Pillars of Life AAARREEE:

  1. Mind – Lifetime of learning
  2. Body – Healthy weight, regular check-ups
  3. Spirit – Explore something greater than yourself
  4. Finances – Live well within your means (or below) 
  5. Relationships – Build and maintain a solid network (from spouse to neighbors)

These are listed in order of importance (hey Mind, you my #1 boo). Mr. Gray say:  “Man who masters all 5, lives 1 happy life.” Read that in a Confucius voice – totally works. 

Got it? Good. Then, Mr. Gray hit me with a BOOOOONUS 6th pillar that happens naturally when all 5 are mastered, but sometimes needs to be planned: FUN. He pointed out that this is not an easy task and is a life-long pursuit, but it is achievable. To demonstrate this, Mr. Gray shared how he personally works on each area:

The way I play this out in my personal life is my wife and I start each day with a three-mile, brisk walk every morning (Body).  We discuss our family and our plans, and we strategize for what needs to be done.  We spend some of that walking time praying together for our children, extended family, friends, community, and for their intentions (Spirit).  We attend church with our family regularly and try to live a life consistent with our religious beliefs (Spirit).  We live well within our means, have invested wisely, and have done so throughout our lives.  I spend time strategizing best investments and profit from stock market fluctuation (Finances).  I read non-fiction books, magazines, and online media on a variety of topics.  I attend technical conferences to keep up with what’s going on in the world and how I might benefit myself and my community from what I learn (Mind).  I maintain a great relationship with my wife, children, and siblings.  I serve on the boards of directors in community organizations, and am a leader in my church.  I meet my daughters and my friends for lunch several times each month, and renew friendship with people I haven’t seen in many years (Relationships).  I make sure my family takes vacations every summer, on luxury cruises or other vacations to the beach, mountains, historical sites, etc.  I take a weekend getaway with my wife to celebrate our wedding anniversary each year (Fun).

Savage, Mr. Gray, Savage. There certainly is a simple brilliance in this advice. It’s almost so common sense that it’s not something we often think about, especially when we’re younger in life. But Mr. Gray shared this dose of wisdom to help younger (and older folks) take note, and hopefully, take action. 

Personally, the biggest takeaway I had from this was BALANCE. When all key areas of life are addressed and given attention, there is balance. What a wise sage Mr. Gray is…not beyond his years…but because of his years. 

Mirror Mirror

Mirror Mirror

….on the wall. Who is the fairest of them all?

Snow White aka porcelain skin with ruby red lips NOT Snow White the pruney broad with white wirey hair. 

Or so I thought….

Yes folks, this is a very accurate depiction of me (with more tears) on the momentous day of September 25, 2007. A day which will go down in infamy. The day when I discovered my first gray hair. Age 26. RIP brunette bombshell.

(p.s. That made-up date was totally pinpointed for dramatic effect)

Oh, that fateful day. That day when I thought: “This is it, Shelly. The beginning of the end. My youthful flame, beauty, vibrance – it’s all shattered. I must accept the inevitable downfall.” 

I also thought: “Thanks ALOT for the premature graying genes, dad.” See below:

“White hair don’t care.” Speak for yourself daddio. Seriously though, the man was fully gray by age 30. Lucky for him he actually rocked it, and still does. 

You might be thinking, “why would gray hairs bring her to tears if she loves seniors and all that is old?” Well, in that moment, I was a total hypocrite. Today, I see seniors with their gray hair and think “amazing; wisdom; experience”, but when it came to myself, I couldn’t handle the first sign that I was truly aging. I thought this meant my beauty was starting to fade *WAH*. Fast forward 10 years, I only have a few more rebellious gray hairs (thank you organic lifestyle) and I have realized so much about myself and Mr. Gray. Although things change in color and texture, aging can have it’s own type of beauty. And yes I do mean “on the outside.”

For a moment, I’m going to focus on my ladies here since men have this magical way of looking better and better as they age *EYE ROLL*. I see you Sean Connery. 

While searching for “seniorspiration” (yep, made that word up) at a local shopping market, I looked up and saw this adonis before me. 

Move over Golden Girls, this lady is the real deal. I mean, I literally had a mouth drop situation (my apologies for not getting a better pic, but clearly, she was onto my stalking). Her perfectly twisted hair (p.s. you should see the back with her fancy hair clips!), her posh yet weather appropriate outfit, her just right make-up. I was in awe. Besides that, she had such a grace about her which completed the package. Royalty. Senior Royalty she was. 

THEN, yesterday, I arrive at a resort with my hubby and I nearly drop my tea & coffee cake when I spot this Mr. Gray all gussied up in black & gold (as a Steelers fan this was serious bonus points):

  P Diddy can't pull off that much bling. 

P Diddy can’t pull off that much bling. 

Pretty sure I put the I LOVE SENIORS vibes out so HARD that it was like the power of attraction and she finally came up next to me (or it could have been that I was next to the food- but that’s neither here nor there). I thought: “This is your chance.” Like a lion spotting a gazelle that separated from the pack, I pounced: “HI! I LOVE YOUR OUTFIT!” Augh, Mr. Gray (also known as Jane) was a gem and her eyes lit up and there was no shame in her game. She was happy to take a photo with me and full of zest.  Her granddaughter was also with her and told me that Jane is the talk of the town and always dresses like this. As in, every single day. Small world, turns out she lives, literally, 1 block from me. I felt robbed of all the outfits I could have seen. 

Beyond showing that Mr. Gray can be a breathtaking species worthy of a Gawk’nStalk (wow I’m making up lots of fun terms today!), I want to note that it clearly took these ladies effort to look so put together– and maybe this effort was well spent!

I mean, Mr. Gray didn’t roll out of bed in these cases and head out for the day. No no. There was time and energy invested: outfit selection, hair twisting, accessorizing, make-up application. Heck, I mean Mr. Gray #1 should get bonus points ALONE for putting on stockings. You know what I mean ladies: stockings add at least 5 precious minutes into a dressing routine — the stretching them out, rolling them down, clipping your hang nail so it doesn’t snag them, pulling them up like at a slug’s pace, and then you inevitably have to pee. It’s an ordeal for anyone of any age. Mr. Gray #2- I mean dammmmnnn. She accessorized like Lady Gaga at the Grammy’s…or should I say “Grammies.” ;o) 

Now the question, is, WHY would a senior spend so much time foofing? Isn’t it this Mr. Gray’s “golden years,” where he/she’s finally earned the right to roll out in those ripped up jeans, eat sweets for breakfast, and tell it like it is?! So why dress up? 

Well, one might be inclined to think, wow *she’s so vaaaain, bet she thinks this blog is about herrrr*.  Is it vain to put effort into looking your best? I think not! This reminds me of that TLC TVshow a from a few years ago: “What Not to Wear.”

  What were you THINKING wearing and old tshirt, sequence sweatpants and crocs with rainbow-dyed hair?!? 

What were you THINKING wearing and old tshirt, sequence sweatpants and crocs with rainbow-dyed hair?!? 

Oh, the magical designer duo, Stacy & Clinton! They were always doing unbelievable makeovers. And they did seem at times a bit “judgey”, BUT if you noticed the huge smiles and the end of the makeovers, you knew they were onto something! They would always say that when you look your best, you feel your best — that it can affect the way you relate to the world and yourself. Essentially, that presenting yourself well on the outside can make you feel good on the inside. And you would definitely feel this truth from the formerly fashion faux-pas folks on the show (p.s. I dub myself the queen of alliteration.)

Why can’t this look good/feel good formula apply to seniors? Well, it can and it does. Perhaps it makes Mr. Gray feel a little better about his arthritis if he puts his favorite cap on to get coffee or her gold bow belt going to dinner?

My personal proof of this formula: Even when she was ill in the hospital, my nanny (aka wife of the original Mr. Gray/my Grandpa/blog inspiration in my “About Me”) loved to have her hair brushed and nails done. A few days before she died in 1997, I painted her nails pink with purple and yellow flowers. I was 15 and that’s all I knew I could do to help her. She died with that nail polish I painted on her fingers. I couldn’t make her well and I know a nice manicure is such a small thing, but I like to believe it helped. Actually, I know it did because it made her feel a bit more put together. She was beautiful and those things made her feel beautiful.

So, back to Stacy & Clinton who would always say, no matter where you go, if you are in public, be put together. Well, my nanny ROCKED that hospital bed, Queen Gray ROCKED that grocery store aisle, and Jane ROCKED that lobby. 

Someone should tell that fairytale mirror that youthful beauty is so last year. 

 

 

Go Go Gadget Gray!

Go Go Gadget Gray!

As far as vaca goes, my husband Abe and I are total opposites. He loves to sit in his beach chair for hours and do nothing; all he needs are his headphones and a good book. Actually, he just needs his headphones. Actually, just air. 

IIIIIIIII, on the other hand, am refreshingly more complex *hair flip* and require far more to keep me entertained. Therefore, this is how our communication goes at the beach — I mouth something to him pretending he can hear what I’m saying through his headphones, until he begrudgingly yanks out just one earpiece, and I hit him with:

To which he always responds: “I’m relaxing.” (No duh, buddy, you’re pruning). 

So I step it up. *Eye batting* *Puppy-dog face* Please Please Pleeeeease do something with me baby honey sugarplum boobobooboobear! 

“Not right now. I’m relaxing.” 

Auggggh you are WORTHLESS TO ME HUSBAND! I married you to have a playmate! I am done with you! (Ok, not really, but that’s how I feel for 5 seconds).

I then pathetically resign myself to wandering the shore looking for a crab to talk to. But I mean, who wants to sit in a chair and just roast like a chicken?? I can scan a magazine for 30 minutes MAX but then I wanna liiiiive as in swim, play bocce ball, boogie board, build a sand castle, look for shells, build Noah’s Ark in the sand, whatever— ANYTHING but doing nothing. 

Look, I can’t help it really. I’m an active vacationer. I’m an active person. I love yoga, pilates, hiking, biking, volleyball, and most recently off-roading (bonus: Abe hates getting wet and it just so happens I love driving through puddles. Paybacks baby ;o))

Now, I don’t want all those zippy activities to give you the wrong idea here— good ‘ole board games are life. My happy place. My zen. But alas, I run into the same sticky issue with my beach bum hubby – he happens to also hate board games and so I never. have. anyone. to. play. with!!!!!

Despite my frustration, I’m not trying to change my husband to enjoy these things. That would be preposterous!

I simply want to age him. NBD right? ;oD

….because ya know darn well Mr. Gray would take me up on that game of scrabble! HE wouldn’t leave me hanging because he loves his board games and crossword puzzles and other highly underrated sophisticated activities. Exhibit A:

 That hands-behind-the-back-pose is everything. 

That hands-behind-the-back-pose is everything. 

I caught these folks in puzzle action at a resort this past weekend. (Luckily, I’ve honed my senior stalking skills to where I seem to be casually taking shots of the room. As if I’d be looking at anything else hahahahaha. *Cuz you know it’s all about that Gray, bout that Gray*) But seriously, I did leave my fancy birthday dinner to capture these snazzy seniors. Priorities.

So, we all know Mr. Gray fancies puzzles and board games and all that jazz….and that’s good stuff because those things are awesome and keep him tres sharp. BUT, why is it almost unnatural for us to picture him doing other activities– you know, as in the ACTIVE ACTIVITES?! 

Well, the stereotype that exists is that Mr. Gray lacks the physical ability and/or is just not interested in being active. Unfortunately, this fixed way of thinking not only stifles our view of seniors, but I argue it also limits the access they have to doing these sorts of activities (i.e. “let’s not offer that it’s too hard for them” or “they will have a heart attack”, etc. etc.). This limits seniors and frankly, it’s demeaning. Nobody likes to be put in a box, so let’s not do that with Mr. Gray either, mmk? 

There are SO many examples out there of seniors not only doing what younger adults can do, but doing MORE than what the average adult can do. 

Here’s just one example. Prepare to be amazed:

As she talks about in this 2010 video, Barb Macklow finished her 1st 100 mile race at age 74. And then, in 2017, she completed her 2nd 100 mile race at age 82.

  Barb with her 100 mile buckle. 

Barb with her 100 mile buckle. 

Let’s take that in for moment. 

ONE HUNDRED FRIGGIN MILES.  I just, I just can’t even fathom this– from anyone at any age. My hubby just ran his 1st marathon (26.2 miles) in October at age 38 and I was in awe of him and the rest of the runners crossing the finish line. Super impressive stuff. Theeeen, you have this ultramarathoner who is 82 years old and ran 4x that length!!!! She ran for 2 days people. 2 DAYYYYS. I can’t even run for 20 minutes. The physical stamina. The mental fortitude. Get this woman a bigger buckle! 

Now, back to my earlier point that we stereotype elderly folks as inactive……. 

If you noticed in the video, Barb mentioned “the general population thinks you’re not quite right.” She’s spot on but what is that crap?? Why do we assume that Mr. Gray can’t DO challenging activities and is nuts if he/she does? While it’s true that some senior folks can’t, some CAN. And isn’t that the same with all people, of all ages? Some can do certain things, some can’t. So let’s rewire our thinking here, shall we? 

Mr. Gray can run. He can jump. He can skip. He can do it all. He’s Mr. Gray.