Say What?

Say What?

Me, upstairs, yelling to husband, downstairs: “Can you put the cooler in the car?”

Husband: *Radio Silence*

Me yelling again: “Hey! Can you put the cooler in the car?”

Husband: “What?!”


Husband: “WHAT?!”


……don’t know about yooooouuuu, but I absolutely can’t stand having to repeat myself- even if it’s my fault (it often is) that the other person can’t hear what I’m saying. I’m also known around these parts as being a mumbler. Like, “apparently” (as my family points out), I totally love to start sentences then turn and walk the other direction as I finish my sentence, so it’s impossible to make out what I’m saying. And the best part is I get frustrated when my family makes me repeat myself. Super fair, I know. Anywho, I do this so much so that my dad occasionally likes to mock me….like so:

Isn’t my dad precious? He’s more like Mr. White than a Mr. Gray (HAR HAR), and he sure loves to teaseeeeee and make fun of me. It’s deserved though. ;o)

And even when it’s NOT my fault that I have to repeat myself, I still am not the most patient person when someone can’t hear me— even— yes— even—- with—–bumbumbummmmmmmmmmmmmm MR. GRAY! Now, I think it’s fair to say, most folks don’t love repeating themselves. So, how do ya think Mr. Gray feels when he has to keep asking?

Well, besides feeling AWKWARD when having to fake agreement, this makes Mr. Gray feel like crap! I know this because my Grandpa, the Original Gangster Gray, would get frustrated and even hurt sometimes when my family couldn’t hear him. He was SO physically and mentally fit, but his years as a rifle coach in WWII led to pretty bad hearing. Whatryagonnado. Now- he was 96, so I mean, not bad for his age. But it was clear we would get frustrated with the situation and it was clear HE was frustrated that WE were frustrated. After the 3rd time repeating ourselves we’d be like just forget it. And looking back, I mean. That was not nice. It wasn’t his fault. And he genuinely just wanted to know what we had said. To feel normal, essentially.

Personal Gray Confession:

I even used to get frustrated when my Grandpa would need to have the closed caption on…

He would go: “Put the CC: on.” and I was always like “Auugghh, fine fine.”

Poor thing, he just wanted to know what was going on in the show! (King of Queens was his fav btw). And I was not the most patient in this department.

The truth is, yeah we have the right to get a little frustrated when we have to repeat ourselves, we’re all human, but if must be farrrrrr more frustrating to be the person WHO CAN’T ACTUALLY HEAR.  Not only does Mr. Gray not have a clue what’s being said during the family dinner conversation and why everyone’s laughing at the table, but he knows if he asks what’s going on, he likely feels like a bother to everyone. I know my Grandfather did.

So we need to remember it might suck on our end, but let’s all extend a little more patience here (or shall I say “hear”) HAR HAR. Me included, obviously.

But, there’s an upside to this can’t hear debacle!

— An upside to not hearing?

—- What did you say? (Jokingggggg)

—–Yes, an upside!

Hearing loss CAN be used as an opportunity for laughter, to make light of a sticky situation, and to grow closer as a family (or as friends). Man, my family all laughed our youknowwhat’s off with my Grandpa’s interpretations of what my mom said. She would be like: “Did I ever hand you the cash?” and he’d go: “Did I stink up the trash?!” And when he realized what was really said, he’d laugh, and we’d all laugh with him.

So let’s make it our Gray Goal to repeat ourselves with patience and understanding, and when possible, turn those “Say Whats?!?” into “Snail Butts?!?”


Head vs. Heart

Head vs. Heart

Lemme begin by saying, who HASN’T found their remote control in their fridge at least once?!? (and I’m not including when you had a liiiiiiiitttle too much vodka one night).

Well, I have.

Okay, maybe not that exact scenario, but you’re a big fat liaaaaa if you haven’t done something similar when you were distracted, such as:

A. Threw something valuable in trash?

B. Totally forgot what you just went upstairs for?

C. Put your cell phone in the washing machine? (Thank you husband for the personal example lol)

Come on, everybody’s doin’ it! And it makes sense because, we’re ya know, “otherwise occupied” with 3 children screaming or a work problem on our minds and simply unable to focus on the task at hand.

Sometimes it can be a funny situation (like when I put my underwear on backwards one day and was wondering why things felt a bit “odd”—–yes that was a true story folks and if you tell anyone about it I’ll never forgive you).  Regardless of how funny it is, most of us get frustrated a little to super frustrated when we do something silly.

Well, step inside Mr. Gray’s sneaks with me. Don’t be shy…

K, now that we’re all here. Mr. Gray can’t just laugh off Dementia, Alzheimer’s, etc., with a “Oh silly me!” No, dude. This is tough stuff. We all know the deal here…..these diseases and gray issues are for lack of a more proper phrase: “Pieces O’ Shit.” Not being able to remember the most basic things like what a “shoe” is called to the most important things like the names and faces of loved ones. Well, a round of drinks for everyone involved because THAT SUCKS. But I’m not here to tell you what you already know about dementia. I’m here to talk to you about what you CAN do for Mr. Gray — you can help him retain his dignity.

  • Don’t baby talk: Baby, sweety, honey—– save that for your lovaaa! Why should we talk to an 85 year old any differently than we would a 45 year old?
  • Choices: What do you want to wear today? The light blue sweater or the red floral shirt? By assuming, well you know….you make an ASS OUT OF YOU AND ME. This allows Mr. Gray to maintain autonomy and I mean, who doesn’t like choice?!
  • Don’t lie! Just because you can get away with it and “he/she won’t know the difference anyway”, doesn’t mean you should. NOW, that being said, there are certain lies that would benefit Mr. Gray’s well-being. You have to use your best judgement. But as much as possible, tell the truth.
  • Engage in normal discussion: Keep it simple and provide direction in the conversation when possible. It’s beautiful outside today! What do you think about those flowers outside? I bet they smell lovely… Even if one’s memory isn’t sharp, doesn’t mean conversations don’t have value.

These are just a FEW things you can do to make Mr. Gray’s life brighter when the good ole ‘noggin isn’t working quite as well as it used to. I’m in. You?

I’ll leave you with this heartfelt story I saw on tv when the Washington Capitals (Hockey for some of you non-fans) won the Stanley Cup recently. The interviewer asked one of the star players, the goalie T.J. Oshie, about his game play inspiration.

Check out the video here!

It’s okay, cry it out. I did too.

So yeah, this disease stinks and Mr. Gray sometimes has to live with this. Until we can fix it, let’s do what we can to not judge him for it and treat him like a whole person. And remember there’s one thing that always remains whole no matter what…

HEART! <3 <3 <3

Team Tortoise

Team Tortoise

Let’s take a moment together, shall we?

Take your eyes and hands off your device (after you read this mini paragraph of course), close your eyes, and just sit there for 30 seconds, just breathing. Here’s an image to help:

I’ll wait……go ahead……no really………………….




WOOOOOO that felt good didn’t it?! AND a bit odd, perhaps? As much as I’d like to charge you $5 for that yoga meditation I just guided you through, sadly, I cannot. ;o) However, I did want to show you how in today’s society, in can just feel a little weird just to sit for a minute and be still. At least, it is for me. 

Perhaps because this feels more like your typical day-to-day:

Your kid is having a tantrum and the school bus is coming and then there’s a traffic jam when you’re late for your meeting and you gotta get this report done and your computer is freezing……. aaaaahhhh sooo many things to doooooooo!!

Don’t feel bad though. Most of us are “go go go.” Because, well, 

 ('Scuse my cursing).

(‘Scuse my cursing).

But really, I get it. We all have so many responsibilities and life goals to achieve. But, there is a huge benefit to taking time to stop and smell the roses, appreciate what we have, and just be. Most of us know this….hence why the “trend” of yoga and meditation has become much more than a passing phase. 

But it’s just hard for us to commit to being still and taking time away from it all (and yes, that includes our iphones— Hubby, I’m talking to you!)

This chillax lifestyle seems to come easier to Mr. Gray though. I know what you’re thinking… HE’S RETIRED. FREE TIME IS IN THE PALM OF HIS HAND. While that’s true, that’s not really what I mean. Mr. Gray takes the time to enjoy the little things- the quiet in-between moments. And that’s a choice. A choice, I argue, made due to a lifelong wisdom of what truly matters.

We’ve all seen seniors walking around their gardens picking out an occasional weed, going for an evening stroll on the sidewalk, taking the time to chat with a passerby or admire a child. 

Don’t know about you but I ENVY THAT LYYYFE. It’s the don’t sweat but enjoy the small stuff, the relationships matter, the let’s enjoy the view kinda attitude. And isn’t that deep down what most of us want out of life? Appreciation and enjoyment.  I mean, Mr. Gray has got the gangsta life down if you ask me. Speaking of gangsta, check out this Mr. Gray…straight chillin’…



Mr. Gray is chillin’ like a villain. He’s not concerned what passersby think of him with his leg out slouched down in his seat. NOPE. He’s just enjoying the warm weather and the R&R. It’s simple. Too simple for most of us, but he really has it all figured out (I think)…

Go Go Go is not always Good Good Good. Mr. Gray has undoubtedly learned this and is an example to the rest of us when we see it. He may have more time than we do, sure, but even the busiest people have even a few moments if they choose to take the time. So as we’re flying by Mr. Gray, thinking augh he’s moving so slowly down the grocery aisle, perhaps it’s not always that he can’t walk faster—perhaps he’s choosing to walk through life with more intention and taking the time to honor every. single. moment. 

You know what they say about the tortoise and the hare? Slow and steady wins the race!! But is it just because he gets to the finish line first? Perhaps, but we do know he definitely enjoys the race more.








Forget male vs. female, Republican vs. Democrat, brunettes vs. blondes, Team T-Swift vs. Team Katy Perry, pro-Tom Brady vs. anti-Tom Brady……..the only distinction that truly matters is………

No greater truth has ever been spoken (or blogged).

So, which is it? Are you a big cheesin’ throw the curtains back, whistling in the morning (shoutout to my brother-in-law who actually does this), it’s Tony the Tiger GGGGGGGGGRRREEEAAT to be alive person? OR do you hit snooze 23.5 times (minimum) and envision a tidal wave breaking over the grinnin’ face of your “morning person” partner?

Which am I? Awwwwww, why thank you for asking! I’m flattered you care so much.

The honest answer is I’m kinda in the middle. WHAT?!?! I know, that’s totally cheating and goes against the entire premise of this argument. But, it’s true. Since I was a bright-eyed bushy-tailed child, I’ve always been smiley and ready to seize the day and never needed coffee or a battle with my alarm clock…buuuuuuuut lately that’s been shifting to:

So, as I’m trying to sort through my true morning identity, we’ll continue with the whole “Love of Gray” thang….

Let’s say 50% of people are admittedly like this:

The downside is, you might be labeled as a morning grump. The upside is, people get it and recognize that after a cup of morning Joe, you emerge into the “normal”, kind, civilized person that you are for the rest of the day.

Well, Mr. Gray (yeah I didn’t forget about him), however, doesn’t always get that pass in life. You guys have seen of or at least heard of the film “Grumpy Old Men.” Right? So you know the deal. I mean I can think of plenty of terms I’ve heard:

“Grumpy Old Man” (That’s a classic).

“Old Hag” (ouch!)

“Curmudgeon” (had to spellcheck that one)

“Cranky Old Lady”

The list goes on, but you get the stereotype. And there is some truth to it. Mr. Gray can be GRUMPS. But the question is, Why? and Why doesn’t he get a pass like our dear morning grumps? Well, let’s explore…

I’ve been reading this recent best seller called “A Man Called Ove.” You guessed it! It’s about a man called Ove— or for our purposes, Mr. Gray— who acts like, well, an “A-hole” to everyone. He’s the type who complains about everything, doesn’t cut anyone slack, and basically acts like he can’t stand anyone around him. We’ve all met a Mr. Gray like this, right? (Sometimes it’s even our not-so-fav great aunt ;o)). Well, what you find out as you read, is that he is grieving the loss of his wife, his career, is extremely lonely, and feels like he’s lost his purpose in life– so he focuses on nitpicking on everything around him. Throughout the book, you began to see and understand his humanity and the reason why he acts the way he does…and he slowly becomes love-able.

This issue in life is, we can’t see into the experience, the pain, and essentially the inner thoughts of those grumpy Grays— so it’s easy to just go- WHAT A NASTY OLD MAN (OR LADY). When in reality, they may be….BUUUUTT I argue people are so much more forgiving of “bad behavior” once they understand the why. Agreed? OK, so here’s the WHY for Mr. Gray:

1. Loneliness (may have NO family or friends left to love him)

2. Loss of independence, function, and purpose (no longer working, may be frail, and have no feeling of contributing to society)

3. Health issues (hard to act happy when you feel your body and mind are failing)

*Sad Face*

Add to that the fact that Mr. Gray is probably being forced to drink Ensure (I’ll leave my opinions on this joke-of-a-nutritious drink for another day) and rubbery chicken…… WHO WOULDN’T BE GRUMPY PANTS?!! Come on, I mean, my DVR keeps freezing and I’m like “don’t talk to meeeeeeeeee.”

So, while seniors can be a grumpy bunch, there’s usually a darn tootin’ good reason (far better than I just don’t like mornings if you ask me). I challenge you all to look beyond the scratchy surface and cut Mr. Gray some slack if he’s a bit sassypants! One day you might hope for the same…….

If We Don’t Know Our History

If We Don’t Know Our History

…we are doomed to repeat it.

DOOMED TO REPEAT IT?!?!!?!  Well that’s just, sad

(For those of you who’ve seen Katt Williams’ comedy i.e. the dude above– I totally said that in his voice; for those of you who have no clue who he is- he’s friggin’ hilarious- go watch). 

I digress.

We’ve all heard this quote at some point or another- many of us from our history teachers when they were trying to get us to “care” about history class- one of the (dare I say)– “less interesting” topics for a teenager. Now I’m not knocking history, and even though I was a valedictorian with a “studyallthetimebecauseI’msupposedto” attitude, I still haaaaaaated history in high school. Yes, hate is a strong word, but I found it to be a total SNOOZEFEST.

No really, please elaborate on how the post Napoleonic War of 1812 when the U.S. took on Great Britain from preventing maritime tradefromthe…………………..zzzzzzzzzzzzz…………………Sorry, I had fallen asleep there for a second… 

Ironically, I spend hours of my life blogging about the elderly which some might associate with watching paint dry, but I say “NAY! Mr. Gray is fascinating!!!

Before you history buffs get all in a tizzy, my opinion has changed. Yes, my dear friends, I now find myself sucked into riveting PBS series on Hitler’s bunkers and I LIKE IT. But I’m sure that’s many of us right? As we get older, we begin to recognize and appreciate the relevance of the who, what, and how that came before us. 

You know who came before us? Oh you know it’s comin’….. THE ONE, THE ONLY, MR. GRAY. 

Yes, folks, he’s the OG (original Gangster for you non-Millenials). He’s been there, done that. Probably a bunch of times, actually. His experience makes him wise. His stories make him interesting. And in some cases, his sacrifice makes him honorable. Here’s an amazing example of a high school kid who knows these truths and dedicates his life to taking action:

HOLY MOLY. This really is an incredible story—While other people his age are busy snapchatting animal faces, this young man, Rishi, travels the world and sleeps in his car just to hear stories of Mr. Gray. It really makes you think: most of us spend so much time talking and sharing ourselves with the world via Facebook, Instagram, etc. It’s like we’re all so obsessed with our own lives (everywhere we visit, political tirades, don’t I look pretty selfies, the cool beer we just ordered) that it’s like daaaamn, we basically spend our days bragging about ourselves and sharing complete nonsense. It’s truly a narcissistic waste of life nearly everyone is caught up in— myself included. 

While we have our faces in our phones, this young man is doing something far more meaningful with his time.

He is obsessed with capturing the stories of others, stories that are far more rich, deep, and valuable to the heart of our lives and our future. These Mr. Gray WWII Vets are dying with invaluable insight, lessons, and information to share with the world. And not only is this young man saving it for the benefit of all of us, he is doing one of the greatest things for Mr. Gray: He is showing him he sees him and is listening.

This is the pledge I have taken– to SEE Mr. Gray —and you can take it too on my home page. 

I can’t take anywhere near the credit of Rishi who has interviewed 850 WWII Vets so far (GO DUDE), but I did do something similar while getting my Master’s Degree in Gerontology (study of seniors). I was assigned to interview 3 elderly folks who were in different phases of their old age- 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. My grandpa (original Mr. Gray) was a perfect subject as he was about 95 at the time. I took a few hours and talked to him about his childhood, his time as a Marine in WWII, etc. It only took me a few hours to interview and a few more to document it, but man, THAT WAS ONE OF THE GREATEST MOST VALUABLE THINGS I EVER SPENT MY TIME DOING. Here are just 2 excerpts and the lessons they taught me:

“…when asked about the onset of the Great Depression, Lenny chuckled and remarked: ‘Dad was raising nine kids, so as far as he was concerned, he had already been in living in the Great Depression!’ As one can imagine, Lenny’s dad struggled to support his large family. As his dad ‘didn’t have time for words,’ Lenny and his siblings grew up in a strict household where ‘whippings’ were common, and where money difficulties left the children unable to purchase anything, including toys. Lenny had to resort to creating his own entertainment, a task which retrospectively was one of his greatest enjoyments as a child. One of his fondest memories was building a homemade wagon or ‘gig,’ built from roller skates and a 2 x 4 and riding it when complete. ”

Gray Lesson #1: You don’t have to have a lot to have fun in life. With a good attitude and some creativity, you can make life as fun as you want it to be. 

“Lenny’s fun-filled days were short-lived due to the onset of WWII. His desire to marry his long-term girlfriend was postponed during the early years of the war due to his high classification in the draft. When his classification was lowered in 1941, Lenny and his girlfriend finally decided it was an opportune time to marry. A few days after returning from their honeymoon, Pearl Harbor was bombed, devastating Lenny and his wife as he could be called to serve at a moment’s notice. Days and then months passed without event, and his wife became pregnant. One week after the birth of their first child in January 1944, Lenny was drafted into the war, and his repeated appeals to have extended time at home were refused. This event served as the most difficult experience in his entire life: ‘The biggest change in my life was when I had to leave my wife when she was just home from the hospital. It upset me. I waited and delayed my marriage so many years and then I had to go and leave my wife and newborn.’”

Gray Lesson #2: Sometimes timing is a *excuse my French* b-i-t-c-h. But you get through it and your relationships become stronger for it. 

Capturing my grandpa’s history was priceless– not only as a WWII vet who sacrificed so much for his country and for generations to come, not only as a memory capsule for me and my family, but beyond that— as a snapshot of the life of a man who has LIVED so much and LEARNED so much that is valuable to us all.

This is what we all must do, as Rishi realized, even just one person at a time. I encourage you to take the time (and sometimes it’s only an hour or so), to interview your own Mr. Gray (family member, friend, neighbor). Document their story. And share it with the world. 

I’ll leave you with these presh photos & video of Leonard Rusnak on his 90th bday that I hope will give you all “the feels!”

The original Mr. Gray. The father. The grandfather. The great man who shared his story with me, and now I am doing my part by sharing a piece of him with the world as often as I can.