A Grandparent’s Role With the Grandkids

March 8th, 2018 Comments off

When a grandparent holds their newborn grand-baby for the first time, there’s an emotional high that’s almost beyond description. The wonder and love felt at that time is forever remembered with a smile.

You feel a new and different kind of love towards this sweet, innocent, warm baby…a new level of love. It’s magical and joyful! Why a different kind of love? You suddenly get this feeling of immortality and the comfort that somehow, some way, a part of YOU will live on through this precious little one.

As a modern-day grandparent what role do you play?

Grandparents have always played an important role in family life; the historian, the mentor, a role model, a friend. However, over the last twenty years, grandparents have had increased responsibility for their grandchildren due to changes in society and a larger number of single parent households. These responsibilities might include activities such as getting young children ready for school in the mornings, providing full-time child care for preschoolers, or serving as a custodial parent. As a grandparent, in this modern-day family, your role is unique and important. You are not just “another babysitter,” but have a fundamental connection with your grand-kids. Make the most of those special days!

Grandchildren bring energy, laughter, optimism, love and purpose to the lives of their grandparents. While grandparents act as an authority figure and provide unconditional love, they also wield incredible influence and get to spoil their grand-kids in a way parents simply can’t.

I encourage you to keep the connection active and alive no matter what the current circumstances may be. Let your imagination go wild, make it a point to send colorful cards or magazine gift subscriptions. Utilize technology and keep that link going through Facetime, Skype or old fashion telephone calls. The bottom line is to keep the constant connection with your grandchildren. Everyone is blessed because of it!

Are we the lucky ones?

March 5th, 2018 Comments off

Take a moment to reflect on the world today; advanced technology, material abundance, limitless growth… it seems clear that the world today is amazing! With the help of technology, people can accomplish their tasks more efficiently and effectively. The adolescents of today have an entire world at their fingertips. They are in constant contact with peers through social digital networks and the media.

Are AgeEsteemers the lucky ones?

Can you recall the days when a neighborhood was a safe place to climb trees, ride bikes or simply play? How about when a vacation was a short drive down the road to a camping spot in the woods. Maybe a time when the whole family ate around the dinner table and everyone enjoyed face-to-face conversations where people were more patient with each other and life seemed to move at a slower pace?

Is the throw-away cycle of today failing both people and the planet? One could argue that healthcare, education and opportunities have certainly improved, however studies show that we are no more satisfied than we were 100 years ago.

So, was life better when it moved at a slower pace? Or not?

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”

Would the ability to be fully present in whatever you may be doing, and not allowing your mind to wander to the past or future, make you happy? I challenge you to slow your mind and focus on the now, so that you are able to enjoy more of the simple things in life. One could say that health and happiness are key ingredients to your AgeEsteem.

Millennials are not necessarily better, but different!

March 1st, 2018 Comments off

Step back into your childhood. Did you live in a “Cleaver Family” or were you a “latchkey kid”?

The Baby Boomer generation, born between 1946 and 1964, worked long hours, but understood the values they instilled in their children. They fought for equal rights and opportunities and were extremely loyal to family; as shown by the Cleaver Family on the Leave It to Beaver television sitcom.

Children of Generation X, born between 1965 and 1980, faced a time when households had dual incomes, they returned from school to an empty house, and society was less focused on them and more focused on adults.

Have you ever stopped and looked at your children or grandchildren and thought how much easier their lives seem?

At first glance, it seems that Millennials, people born after 1980, have it all figured out. There is a common belief that because of technology, millennials can work flexible hours and should be evaluated on work product – not how, when or where they got it done.

Is this way of working truly a better way, or just a different challenge?

Millennials might be the brainiest, best-educated generation yet. However, four-in-ten Millennials aged 18 to 29 currently have student loan debt and are getting hit hard by depression. One in five young workers has experienced on-the-job depression, compared to only 16 percent of Generation X’ers and Baby Boomers. They are growing in a world of “information urgency” with little patience, experiencing the “high tech and low touch” phenomenon.

Generations might approach situations differently, however no matter what generation you are from, all people want to be heard, crave feedback and want to make a difference.

Let your AgeEsteem shine and realize that no matter how easy things seem to the next generation, every person is walking around with a sign around their neck saying, “Make me feel important!”

What is Love?

February 26th, 2018 Comments off

If you ask a child, “What is Love?” They might come back to you with a simple definition like:

  • Love is hugging me, even when I did something wrong.
  • Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.
  • Love is spending time reading an extra book to me, even though the chores are piling up.
  • Love is giving daddy the best piece of chicken.

As a teenager, love can be defined as more individualistic and chemical.  You might here definitions such as:

  • Love is a feeling where you feel like nothing can go wrong.
  • Love is when your world is made up of one special person and without that person, you seem empty.
  • Love is being there for someone.

However, when you become a parent you are introduced to the power of unconditional love and the danger of sacrifice as a parent.

Love is the force that gives Age Esteem its pizzazz! It may take on different dimensions as we experience different stages of life, but it remains a constant.

As we close out this month of love, let’s celebrate – Love of self, love of family, love of friends, love of those who we do not yet know and yes, even love for our enemies.

  • Allow your heart to overflow with thoughts of love.
  • Look for indications of love around you.
  • Remember the precious moments in your life when you have had so much love in your heart that it bubbled over.

Celebrate love!


Offer a Gift of Love

February 22nd, 2018 Comments off

Jessica, our five-year-old granddaughter, came skipping towards me cradling something in her hands. “Look Baline! (her special name for me) Look, what I made for you!” Her little face was beaming with joy and anticipation as she gently opened her hands to present me with her gift.

There, carefully cradled in her hands was a leaf sandwich—a dark green leaf stuffed with colorful buds. Its beauty took my breath away. As I hugged Jessica and thanked her for this precious gift, I thought, “What a beautiful expression of love!”

Jessica’s gift carries an important message during this month of St. Valentine’s and romantic love.

We did not need to fly around in a frenzy trying to find just the right card to say, “I love you”. Nor should we concentrate our expressions of love on one day of the year. Instead, let’s do what comes naturally to a child.

Offer a gift of love! Offer an expression of love when the spirit moves you. Express your love in multiple ways throughout the year.
We each need love at every age. It is our sustenance and emotional energizer at every age and stage of life.

There are many ways to express love, including a dark green leaf sandwich stuffed with colorful little flowers. Love is our greatest gift.

Bonnie Fatio

Find Someone To Love

February 19th, 2018 Comments off

When I cheerfully wished a friend Happy Valentine’s Day, her response surprised me. She moaned, “Ha! Maybe it’s a Happy Valentine’s Day for you, but I have no one to love”.

Her response set me thinking. Is it possible to have no one to love? It is true that with aging comes the loss of loved ones, often a change in where we live and our activities. These can bring the feelings of loneliness and even abandonment, leading to depression. It may seem to us that we have no one to love, but is it really possible to have no one to love?

If this is true, then how can we change the situation? How can we find others to care for and love? In my book, AgeEsteem, the chapter on The Power of Purpose opens with this personal quote: “Having a purpose enables us to step outside of our own needs and problems, to focus on new opportunities and to renew our energy as we take action”. Scientific research and my own personal experience shows that to have that sense of belonging, of being loved and loving others, we must have a purpose in our lives, a reason to get up in the morning and to look forward to the day.

The trick is to reach out to others. Find a volunteer activity where you can benefit others with your talents and personality. Do you like children and have energy to care for them? Why not help a neighbor with her little ones once or twice a week? Many children are begging for help with their homework. Youth are in need of older mentors to guide them. Join a team to fold flyers or decorate for a party. Read to the blind. Opportunities are countless once you begin to look into volunteering.

Nothing is more fulfilling than to think that you have benefited the life of another. Seek your immediate purpose. Forget about yourself for a minute and reach out to others. Richard Branson, multi-billionaire, says that what gets him up in the morning is the idea of being able to make a difference. Doris Blunt, a retired school teacher, would get up with a smile each morning because she was the “sunshine” of the home she lived in. We each have a purpose. Find yours, and you will also find someone to love.

Bonnie Fatio

An AgeEsteem Valentine Wish

February 14th, 2018 Comments off

May you

Smile with affection at your reflection in the mirror.

Stand in awe of the sun as it sets, stimulating a palette of colors across the sky.

Reach out to another person who seems lonely or sad or simply in need of a friend.

Open your mind to hear the opposing views of others.

Find a way to dance, sing and play each day.

Accept gifts and help from others.

Hold the hand of a child and the hand of an elder.

Laugh with complete abandon.

Feel happy and valued and loved.

Hug someone spontaneously.

Praise others lavishly.

Encourage, support and open opportunities for others.

Feel gratitude for the goodness of each day.

Tell others unabashedly that you love them.

Share your talents and recognize your contribution.

Yes, these are what I wish for you on this day of celebration of love. They are, after all, what love is all about.

May Every Day be a Day of Love!

Bonnie Fatio

A Chance Encounter

February 12th, 2018 Comments off

A highlight of spending a few weeks in Florida age is to take breaks from my activities to walk on the beach and just enjoy “being”. There is something reviving and stimulating about splashing through the seawater as the waves wash up on the shore.

Yesterday walking on the beach I passed a woman searching among some scattered shells. Following the hurricane there are very few shells on the beach this year. I said this to her
as I walked near her and we struck up a conversation. 30 minutes later we were still talking. She fascinated me with stories of her multiple activities and her love of life.

She was definitely an AgeEsteemer. I learned that her activities included stimulating discussion groups, volunteering where she interacted with all generations, and traveling to the new and unknown. It was clear that she was living fully, keeping her mind alive, stretching herself further, and interacting with different people – which obviously included speaking to strangers on a beach.

Hmm. I wonder if she thought I was an AgeEsteemer, too.

Bonnie Fatio

A Lesson In AgeEsteem From Peanuts

February 8th, 2018 Comments off

Charlie Brown and Lucy have done it again! These cartoon characters of Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts” make me both laugh and ponder. They share such pertinent lessons.

In a recent cartoon, Charlie tells Lucy that he’s decided “this will be a year of decision”. He proudly shows her a list of things he is going to improve in his life in order to be a better person.  Lucy, who has a way of ruining the intentions of others, replies that she is “going to spend this whole year regretting the past”, crying over what she can no longer control. “Why did I do that?”

How often do you have a Lucy in your life, dimming your joy and crushing your enthusiasm? How often does a Lucy step into your day to tell you that you should not make that trip you have planned, or go out with friends in the evening, or even buy new clothes now that you are older?

If I were Charlie Brown, I would have dumped Lucy a long time ago. I don’t want to waste time regretting the past. I want to enjoy today!

An important aspect of aging well is to have people around you who encourage and support you in what you do, people of all generations who uplift you and who show AgeEsteem. You know the people I am referring to. They are the ones who live fully at each stage of life, who dare to act on their dreams, who have a meaningful purpose, who surround themselves with positive people of all ages, and who continue to contribute to society.

AgeEsteemers do not regret the past, they live in the present and embrace the future.

No, Lucy, I will not let your attitude spoil my joy of living.

Bonnie Fatio

Grandma’s Hands – A Story for All Generations

January 15th, 2018 Comments off

Thank you to Jack Levine, founder of 4Generations Institute, for sharing this inspiring story.

Grandma, some ninety plus years of age, sat serenely on the garden bench. She didn’t move but sat alone with her head down staring at her hands.

I sat down beside her. She didn’t acknowledge my presence and I wondered if she was OK. 

Finally, while hesitating to disturb her, I asked her if she was doing all right.

She raised her head and looked at me and smiled. ‘Yes, I’m fine, thank you for asking,’ she said in a clear voice strong. 

’I didn’t mean to disturb you, Grandma, but you were just sitting here staring at your hands and I wanted to make sure you were OK,’ I explained to her. 

“‘Have you ever looked at your hands,’ she asked. “I mean really looked at them?” 

I slowly opened my hands and stared down at them. I turned them over, palms up and then palms down. I realized I had never really looked at my hands as I tried to figure out the point she was making. 

Grandma smiled with a twinkle in her eyes and related this to me: 

”Stop and think for a moment about the hands you have, how they have served you well throughout your years.  These hands of mine, though wrinkled and weak, have been the tools I have used all my life to reach out and grab and embrace life. 

They braced and caught my fall when as a toddler I was about to hit the floor after running a bit too fast.

They put food in my mouth and clothes on my body. They tied my shoes and pulled on my boots. As a child, my mother taught me to fold them in prayer.

They held my pencil as I struggled through math problems and while I wrote poems about nature and people I liked.

They were clumsy when I held my newborn son and steady in kneading dough and stirring pots of soup.

Decorated with my wedding band they showed the world that I loved someone special.

 They held my husband tight and wiped my tears when he went off to war.

They wrote letters to him as he served in foreign lands and they trembled in grief when I watched my parents being buried.

They opened wide to welcome my returning hero and they patted his strong hands when he tearfully spoke of losing his buddies in combat.  

They have held my children and grandchildren, consoled neighbors, carried meals to the grieving and wrote checks to causes dear to my heart.

They shook in fists of anger when I didn’t understand how some people could be so callous to the detriment of others. 

They have combed my hair, washed my face and cleansed the rest of my body. They have been sticky and wet, bent and raw as I planted my garden and yanked out stubborn weeds.

And to this day when not much of anything else on my body works real well, but these hands still help raise me up, lay me down, and continue to fold in prayer. 

These hands are the mark of where I’ve been in joy and sadness and give silent testimony the ruggedness of a life well-lived. 

But most important it will be these hands that God will reach out and take when he leads me home for my final rest.”

I will never look at my hands the same again. I remember with resolute faith the day God reached out and took my Grandma’s hands and led her home.

When my hands are hurt or sore or when I stroke the face of my children, grandchildren and other loved ones I think of Grandma.

Her wisdom and wonderful loving nature live in me and all who were graced to know her, and to have touched those sensitive hands.