Sunday, November 29, 2009

Youth Is Wasted On The Old

The word is out. Our fountain of youth has finally arrived, neatly tied with a 20 year old ribbon. All that is old is new again. 

Apparently 60 is the new 20. Sixty year olds have more in common with 20 year olds than any other generation. For those of us who thought these would be the golden years of retirement, we find ourselves with diminishing retirement funds, out of work, difficulty getting health insurance and fewer options. Surprise! Interestingly enough, that is also where most 20 year olds find themselves in today's economy. 

Our commonalities now afford us a bridge over the generation gap. Both age groups find themselves downsizing, working several part time jobs to make ends meet and looking for affordable health care. Neither generation is in a position of retirement. But with the sharing of a few tricks from old dogs and the learning of new tricks from the young dogs, we might just have a shot at getting out of this economy alive...or at least with a sense of humor.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


The turkey was not the only thing stuffed this Thanksgiving. My frig, my house, my yard, my inbox...all stuffed. I opted to spend this holiday connected only to my family. But tonight when I opened my email, I found a very profound message from a friend. It made me laugh and think about how fortunate we really are. May his musings stuff you with gratitude, or at least a good chuckle. 

I'm grateful to my enemies because they test the limits of my ability to love and help me learn to stretch them, like Darth Vader did for Luke Skywalker.

I'm thankful for my friends who remind me that there's a reason to bother loving in the first place. 

I'm glad to have my family, as dysfunctional as they are at least they love me no matter what.

I'm happy to live in the world I live in because it's so full of everything I like and dislike. Also, even if it does self-destruct in my lifetime, at least it'll put on a hell of a show.

I'm thankful for time because, although I can't make it go backwards, I like the future I look forward to.

I could go on, but food is ready, so I'll wrap up by writing that I'm also thankful for you, for whatever part you've played in my life, pleasant and unpleasant, happy and sad, silly and serious.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Moment of Clarity

"What we need is a moment of clarity," said Ambassador Nancy B. Brinker, founder of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure

I must admit that after a week of hearing, disbelieving and reading, that is an understatement. 

I am a breast cancer survivor. Without self exam at age 39, the tumor would have gone undetected with a mammogram for another two years. In other words, I would have been dead. As I now approach the age of 60, I realize that in that 20 years, it is obvious that we still need to close the huge technology gap in mammography. That is what this scientific study says to me. We have the players. We have the home field advantage. We have the coaches and now that the playbook may be changing - We need the equipment!

The one tool in our arsenal has been and always should be - know your body. The technology for mammograms is not equal to the task.  The organizations who can make that change are in play already. Join them and make your voice heard

I invite survivors to lead women calmly to a reasonable and trusted solution. Women are often categorized as emotional and hysterical. Wrong? Prove it! Read, understand and then engage other women to do the same. The health care debates continue. I do not believe this to be rationing but an approach that may be better for us in the long run. 

The truth is, more often than not, we survivors found the lump ourselves. For us, regular screenings are now a way of life. For those of you confused, angry and threatened by this study - you are wasting your energy. What the studies failed to collate is that women worry about breast cancer - period. False positives are no more worrisome than the nagging feeling that crops up every now and again. My advice as a survivor and more importantly a woman - Do a self exam and discuss the issues with your trusted health care physician. Be informed. There is no mandate, research or guideline that will ever replace knowing your own body. That is what a wise grandma, mother, sister, daughter, friend and colleague would and should do! 

Do you have a story to share? A bit of wisdom? Speak up and share your comments here at Wise Grandma.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Following the Bouncing Ball

If there is one thing that keeps my teaching fresh and creative, is the opportunity to introduce students to works that are outside of the box. Ping Pong Polka by Dr. Walden Hughes is one of those rare pieces that brings fun and musical challenges to students. A fresh approach to playing ensemble music and explore new ways to tweak musical boundaries. 

Ping Pong Polka is a six handed piece. Three players at one piano is challenging enough, but this piece has the added imaginative quirk of 30 ping pong balls placed inside a grand piano. As players tickle the ivories the balls bounce and ping as the pong across the strings of the instrument. The sound is at once intriguing and compelling as each note produces the unique prepared piano piece. It is a wonderful exhibition piece and I never tire of watching the faces of young children and adults as they gather around the piano watching the antics of the little white and yellow balls as they hop merrily around the sound board.

I have engaged students with other of Dr. Hughes' ensemble and duet pieces. Duet for Four Grapefruits has been performed in 50 countries. Although Dr. Hughes does suggest oranges for smaller hands or baseball or tennis balls, as long as the title of the piece reflects these changes. But he does suggest that pomegranates and  nectarines are indeed poor substitutes and not recommended. 

Yes, this is why I became a teacher. To work myself out of a job by teaching the art of thinking and playing outside of the box. That is what a wise grandma and teacher would do!