Monday, August 29, 2011

Retirement Is Not An Option: Act 3

Hi, Boomers,
It is with somewhat regret that I am signing off my blog from this bloodspot website and will now be blogging from my website: This site is a dedicated to a new direction in my professional journey: the journey of a public speaker.
It is with great joy that I am in the throws of changing directions in my life. Why not at 67 years old? There is no better time than now to rejuvenate my life and give it a different direction, still with passion and still with desire. I will not, however, be giving up teaching yoga. Yoga is my passion and my life. They are one for me and I cannot live without yoga to nourish my soul and bring peace into my life. Yoga has given me so many unbelievable gifts. I am blessed daily and I have deep and profound gratitude for these gifts. In time, I will simply scale down my version of teaching yoga.
I don't believe in retirement. Retirement is just waiting to die so that isn't an option. I believe in living life to the fullest always. When I wrote my memoir, Sixty, Sex, & Tango, Confessions of a Beatnik Boomer, I thought it was a totally fun moment in my life. The writing and publishing brought me joy and honor. But it was just a book and a book has a shelf-life if it isn't a classic or a bests seller. But a life has no such thing as a shelf-life. Life is lived on a continuum with curves and variables and losses and struggles and joys and successes. Life is incredibly interesting because it has so many nuances and levels and loves and desires and dreams and passions. What a rides this life!!
I don't know when it was that I decided to be a public speaker. Maybe it was always in me and it took writing my book to bring it out. After all, my memoir was a window to my soul. My beautiful close friends have told me that reading my book was like having a conversation with me in a private room. How splendid! A very long time ago, I was a public speaker in high school and won all the major speech contests in the state of California. Maybe that young girl of 16 is still in me and maybe that girl wanted to come out again and speak.
Seventy-six million baby boomers will are retiring or about to retire. This moment in our social and cultural and economic history will transform society. I don't know in exactly what ways, but they will undoubtedly be transformative. I wanted to take a little corner of this phenomenon and talk about what it means to retire for our generation. The clearest response to this idea is that we will not retire like our parents. Boomers will lead the way to a new paradigm of how we will grow older. Leaving the work force does not mean that we will give up on life; leaving the work force is the begging our our Act 3, the best and most exciting time our our life.
And that is exactly the reason I am altering the dynamics of the last eight years of my life. There are other passions to explore and other dreams to pursue. This is my journey. I hope your journey is as awesome.
See you on

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Feminism: Lost or Found

Hi, Boomers,
How many of your remember the feminist movement? Gloria Steinem and the feminist movement are dear to my heart. In fact, I reflect on it almost daily when I teach yoga to those young women two generations removed from my experience of forging for women's rights in the early 1970's. I feel sad that the young university women I encounter do not appreciate or relate to this compelling moment in the history of women.
If any of you female boomers don't recall much of that time (memory fades), check out the HBO documentary on Steinem and the feminist movement. I caught it the other night and was transfixed by it's energy and determination, its love and spirit. What I didn't remember so vividly was how hostile the male gender was during the years of the feminist movement. Nixon said snotty things about the movement; Harry Reasoner said Ms Magazine would last 3 editions; most elected representatives were dismissive. Yet, women of that generation moved seamlessly through the hostility of both men and women. Their cause would not be denied. It was and it wasn't.
We fought for equal rights for women. We tried to pass the 14th amendment to effect the gender adjustment. The journey was really exciting and quite brilliant. Watching Ms Steinem move through her life as an advocate for equal right and equal protection under the law was always and still is inspiring. A mover and a shaker at 75, I couldn't believe Ms Steinem is still on the path to improve the working and social conditions of women. She was radiant as she spoke about the accomplishments women have forged since the 70s. Although women are still behind the wage curve, we've added millions of our gender to the all walks of life, most importantly in business, medicine/health, and education. We still haven't been fully invested into politics as evidenced by our less than impressive numbers in Washington.
I once hit the glass ceiling at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, in the Theater Department and I will never forget what the university president said to me when I brought my complaint of sexism in the workplace to his attention. He said: "I can't help what's going on in that department. They have their reasons. If you want to do anything more in theater, get off campus." And I did and I started Nevada's first year round professional theatre and the professors worked for me.
I feel compelled to pay tribute to a woman and a movement that provoked me to excel in my life, to be the best I could be, to make an impact in my universe. I see Gloria moving and grooving and I still want to emulate her style and her energy.
I look at this generation of college woman and wonder if they have a clue about the influence of the feminist movement on our society. I have had several conversations with young women lately reflecting on the inertia of today's women in terms of their professional staying power. These women seem to lack purpose on where their life is going or even how to get the life they want and deserve. I don't know if they are marking time until the right man comes along and they can start a family. I'm not judging that or labeling that as misdirected because I married very early and had children in my late 20s. But I also believed that if I invested in education, began a career path, trusted the passionate nature of my ife's trajectory that I would gain personal and professional satisfaction and my life would subsequently be richer and fuller.
The belief in a feminist movement does not negate the possibility of falling in love or being in love or marrying and raising a family. The feminist movement was a belief in the power of women to exceed and excel completely and fully in a life's work. Ms Steinem fell in love in her early 70s and married. The tragedy is that it was a very short marriage because the man she loved and married died of a brain tumor in the third year of her marriage. It must have been truly devastating to have fallen in love finally and then to loose that love. Although, I am sure that as with most women who tragically loose a partner and a lover, the recovery is tremendously difficult. I know from personal experience how sad and humbling that can be.
However, Ms Steinem is a woman above all who is immensely knowledgeable and sure of herself, whose beliefs are strong and clear. There is a through line of truth in her life's work and that is what makes her a role model for generations of women who want to create a live of value and productivity. I will tell the group of women that I am speaking to on campus at UCLA the story of Gloria Steinem and hope they are as inspired as I was to have been championed by the feminist movement.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Smile, Please

Hi, Boomers,
Wow! Long time no hear from me. Jeezzz. I must be out of my mind. I must be nuts. I take on a new career as a public speaker and I am consumed by planning, organizing, detailing, and memorizing the speech, working on the website and just getting overwhelmed. I wish the federal government worked as hard making some progress on its inability to make decision and plan for a future in which my sons and grandchildren can receive the full benefits of being an American.
No one smiled in my classes last week. It was really grim. It began with a precipitous fall in the stock market on Monday: down, up, down,up, down, up. It didn't matter that my students weren't invested in the market. No 401k for the students, but surely staff and faculty had some savings for the future. The collective unconscious of the nation is surely in an unhappy and, dare I write, confused state. But our malaise goes deeper than Wall Street.
We used to be able to fix things in the good old U.S. And we used to be able to tell the good guys from the bad guys. We used to be able to count on people who did the right thing. We used to be able to speak from truth and not from hyperbole and outright lies. When did facts become irrelevant? When did learned men become the butt of jokes? When did elected officials ignore voters who say they want those in government to act like grown ups and speak with true authority based on information, on facts, instead of fabricating scenarios that fit their personal beliefs and political ideology.
It's hard to smile while we lose our future. It feels as if the collective unconscious is beginning to actually mourn for a past that seemed to hold more promise than either the present or the future.
I think today I heard something so arrogant and judgmental from Michelle Bachman that for the first time I was put on notice that freedom could be put on trial and now I'm not smiling. Mrs. Bachman, who just won the Iowa straw poll, was questioned on "Meet The Press" by David Gregory about not just her belief that raising the debt was a mistake without thought to what would happened on the globally (she also ridiculed the secretary of the treasury and, of course, President Obama for getting it all wrong - everyone gets it wrong but her), but also about her belief that gays are somehow not really valuable humans; they are rather a sub species who need conversion not just to the heterosexual lifestyle but to her idea of the Christian way of life. It's her way or the highway. If only we could hear God whisper in our ear and tell us what to do we could be on her same page. I wondered if she became president all gays would be isolated in society, maybe interned in lifestyle camps until they mended their ways and turned straight. She actually believes that being gay is a disorder.
She and her husband are scary people. Dr. Bachman's clinic encourages discouraged/ isolated/confused gays to get help for their sexual orientation and become straight, which suggests that they are not good enough the way they are. If she becomes president, don't be surprised if "don't ask, don't tell," which was repealed recently, will return with a vengeance.
Why is there no outrage? Or maybe there is and the anger is internalized. I'm not particularly proud of what our country is doing because it doesn't stand for the values I thought we had. We seemed to have lost our compassion, our empathy, and in its place, some elected officials and those who are running for office with millions of dollars behind them spout platitudes with no real way to implement sound ideas.
Where is the truthful vision for America? We got off track in America - Wall Street greed, two wars, outsize spending, devaluing of education, lack of job creation, not helping those who cannot help themselves, stripping social services - but did we lose all the problem solvers along with our values?
One thing I regret about America. We've lost historical perspective and we stopped listening to wise men, and instead we bought in to simplistic jingoism. This is certainly not the 21st century I envisioned.
Are we ever going to smile again?