Previous month:
March 2020
Next month:
May 2020

April 2020

A Lesson in Resiliency

Musings Resilient-4899283_1920There are many notable stories emerging from the coronavirus pandemic. Perhaps an under-reported aspect is the remarkable resilience of some older citizens, as evidenced in this New York Times article, "Why So Many Older People Thrive in Lockdown."

Writer John Leland spoke with three New Yorkers, ages 99, 85 and 88. All of them were not only surviving the pandemic but finding ways to thrive during it.

  • The 99-year old Sterling Lord, a literary agent who once represented Jack Kerouac and today represents Lawrence Ferlinghetti, is able to work in relative isolation. He says the virus lockdown "has been an inconvenience" because Lord wants to start yet another literary agency and "he cannot hire assistants to get the new agency going."
  • Historian Janet Wasserman, 85, is doing research via the Internet. She has a healthy perspective on the situation, telling Leland, "If you haven't lived as long as I have you might think this was the worst thing that ever happened. But people who know history know the difference."
  • Theater professor and director Gordon Rogoff, 88, is happily catching up on his reading. He says, "I’m recovering some sense of space and time that’s been lost in the hectic arrangements in which we live on a daily basis."

In the article, Leland quotes Gary M. Kennedy, director of geriatric psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center and professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Kennedy says "pessimism and anxiety tend to abate with age. [Older people are] no longer striving for material achievements, so what matters to them now is what's emotionally satisfying. They're more likely to say, I've been through this before."

I find it encouraging that these elders have adopted such a positive outlook during a time of global crisis. While the pandemic has turned life upside down for all of us, they seem to be far better at coping with the effects of this virus than others. In contrast, younger folks are very anxious and upset. They are impatient to restart their lives. Of course, their anxiety is totally justified, but one gets the feeling that many of them may not take the social distancing precautions necessary when restrictions are eased. We've already seen a flagrant disregard by some people for guidelines intended to protect all of us.

Nothing can beat the wisdom of experience and the perspective of age. It's sad that our society generally derides elders instead of honoring them. Sterling Lord, Janet Wasserman and Gordon Rogoff offer us a much-needed lesson in resiliency. is a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog.


Check out the new book featuring 156 best and worst brands of the 50s and 60s!

Advice for Recovery

OnaWhim Directory-466935_1920As difficult as it is to believe right now, we must all have hope that the United States and the world will eventually recover from this global pandemic. We will, however, likely be living under very different conditions in the near future -- what many are referring to as the "new normal." One can foresee, for example, an increased emphasis on social distancing, mask-wearing in public and the inevitable demise of the familiar handshake.

How will our lives as Boomers be different? Older Boomers who collect Social Security and are already on Medicare were probably relieved to have those safety nets in place during the pandemic. Still, their retirement savings have no doubt been battered. It could take years to rebuild the value of those investments.

Older and younger Boomers alike have been affected. If you were employed previously, you may have been laid off from your job. Post-pandemic, you may lose your job permanently. If you owned a small business or were part of the gig economy, you may have seen your income dry up or even had to shutter your business.

The hard truth is many of us had finally recovered financially from the 2008-2009 recession. We were probably on pretty solid ground until the coronavirus crisis hit. Suddenly, it obliterated our security.

So how do you find a way to pick up the pieces now? I don't claim to have any easy answers. I won't flood you with platitudes that you may find elsewhere.

But I do believe that given our collective experience, Boomers are generally better at facing and overcoming life's challenges. Why? Because age provides perspective... and we are generally a very resilient bunch. We have lived through downturns and upheavals and survived. Many of us have learned important lessons as we age: Being able to live below our means, valuing the little things in life, expressing gratitude for family and friends. Even in the midst of the global meltdown, I'm grateful for what I have.

So we will cope. We will stay positive. We will find a silver lining in this crisis. We will not allow it to steal our vitality and our exuberance for life. We will recover and prevail.

The road to recovery may be long. Some things in our country will need to fundamentally change for the better. But we have only to look at the selflessness of front-line workers and the countless acts of kindness displayed during this pandemic to recognize that the human spirit is alive and well. That will carry us forward. is a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog.


Check out the new book featuring 156 best and worst brands of the 50s and 60s!

Coronavirus Revelations

Musings Man-4957154_1920The coronavirus pandemic affects everyone on the planet one way or another. For one thing, many of us now have a lot of isolation-inspired time on our hands. In my case, it has given me time to ponder what this unprecedented event really means. It has made me see our own country's priorities and challenges through a very different lens.
I remember our country going through such trying times as President Kennedy's assassination, the war in Vietnam, Watergate/Nixon's resignation, 9/11 and the 2008 financial meltdown. As a nation, we have always managed to recover from adversity. Still, for decades, underlying chronic problems have lingered, and when we have an unimaginable crisis like this one, they become painfully obvious. For me, coronavirus has revealed three glaring weaknesses: 
The incompetence of our federal government. The pandemic has highlighted the fact that our political leaders have been emphasizing all the wrong priorities while failing to do the one basic thing for which they are responsible — protecting citizens. There is growing evidence that our government was unprepared for this pandemic even though it should have been. Important public health functions were eliminated, experts were let go and concerns that were raised were ignored or not taken seriously. Leadership at the national level is non-existent. The petty, combative, ignorant political leaders who "run the country" lack the empathy, honesty, cooperative spirit and moral fiber to intelligently deal with something of this magnitude. Fortunately, many governors have stepped up and done their best to fill the void.
The fragility of our systems. Only when such a crisis occurs can we see first-hand how inter-dependent we are. Local restaurants are just one small example. I took it for granted that we could walk into a restaurant any time we wanted and get great local cuisine served by friendly staff. Having them suddenly close made me understand what that means for restaurant owners who live on thin margins, for restaurant workers who struggle, and for the entire supply chain of farmers, fishermen, truck drivers and others whose livelihoods have been instantly obliterated. It is likely many small independently run restaurants will never re-open. This same scenario applies more broadly across many aspects of modern life in America. Every industry in the country, every product we buy and every service we use is inter-related on some level. When any part of our system fails, it’s like pulling out the Joker from a house of cards.
The inequity of our society. It is startling that a tiny virus can make so obvious the huge gap between the haves and have nots. Somehow the rich and famous manage to get tested and enjoy the very best care if they get sick. At the same time, others who are less fortunate are told to avoid getting tested and come to a hospital only if they are having trouble breathing. Everyone is told to stay at home; some of us can work for home, but others who cannot are abruptly laid off. As a result millions of people lose their jobs and have no health insurance and no savings. Here's how the federal government "fixes" the problem: It authorizes payments that cannot be made in a timely manner, unemployment benefits that are impossible to obtain because of overwhelmed state bureaucracies, and small business loans that banks are not prepared to fulfill. Once again, our systems fail the middle class and poor people who need the most help.
Front-line workers risk their lives to save others but are not provided the basic protective gear they need. The sobering fact is that these very dedicated people are paid less than a living wage and receive meager benefits. I saw one story about a poorly paid EMT worker in New York who was terrified because all of his emergency calls were related to coronavirus, yet he himself had no health insurance. Compare that with millionaire politicians who have the best health care in the country. How can we as a society allow that?
My apologies if I may have depressed you with my outrage, but a pandemic has a way of revealing the cracks in our country that we might otherwise ignore.

The Old Fogey Freelancer

OnYourOwn Multi-tasking-2840792_1920When you were growing up, you probably remember the nasty term "old fogey." Some of us may have even used it to deride our elders. Nowadays, you may not hear that specific term much, but its meaning still exists. That's because ageism is alive and well in American society.

Ageism is particularly evident in the workplace. In the March 2020 issue of the AARP Bulletin, CEO Jo Ann Jenkins cited a new AARP study conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit that indicated "the U.S. economy missed out on $850 billion in 2018 from the loss of 50-plus workers' contributions." The loss was due to "biases against older workers" and was attributed to a combination of involuntary retirement, under-employment, and unemployment.

American companies certainly don't help matters when they arbitrarily toss out more expensive but more experienced older workers. Meanwhile the current law against age discrimination is empty and virtually unenforceable. It is no surprise, then, that some seniors who want to earn an income turn to menial, low-wage jobs. Others, however, have discovered the benefits of self-employment through freelancing. This is one reason the "gig economy" is a legitimate and growing sector (despite the fact that it has been battered of late by the coronavirus pandemic, just like the rest of the economy).

Generally speaking, as a freelancer, experience (which often equates with age) is an asset, not a liability. Ironically, the same companies that find it expedient to fire older workers seem to be perfectly willing to contract older freelancers. Bonnie Nichols, writing for The Freelancer by Contently, says she began freelancing when she was laid off from a corporate job at age 50. She has applied her journalism background and experience as a corporate communicator to obtain freelance assignments that take advantage of her skills. Nichols writes, "I’ve learned to recognize a good client from a bad one. Over time, I’ve been able to raise my rates. The good ones hire me for my experience, and they’re willing to pay for it."

Nichols admits to facing such challenges as learning about new subjects and wrestling with new technologies such as video conferencing, but these things haven't impeded her ability to get work. In fact, she has had opportunities to return to the traditional workplace since she began freelancing full time in 2014 but she says "I have no desire to return to corporate life. ...My goal for the past two years is to do work I love and give the rest away. So far, I’ve been pretty good at that.

"Freelancing just fits my lifestyle. It allows me the flexibility to take longer vacations with my spouse, be on call for my aging mother, and indulge my hobbies of playing in a band, swing dancing, and volunteering. It’s also the most reliable way to support myself as I head into 60."

Bonnie is just one of scores of mature workers who have leveraged their professional experience into freelance work. Nowadays, freelancing is a viable income opportunity in many fields, not just creative endeavors.

During the coronavirus crisis, freelancing can be an even more attractive option since you can work from home. Maybe this would be a good time for you to consider becoming an "old fogey freelancer." is a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog.


Check out the new book featuring 156 best and worst brands of the 50s and 60s!