How I’m Surviving COVID-19

We all have our coping mechanisms. COVID-19 and the year 2020 have certainly shown us not only HOW we cope during a crisis, but have given each of us a pocket full of tested strategies that we can pull out anytime things get bad – like when the next virus hits, or when an asteroid is heading toward the earth, or when aliens invade the planet, or when locusts overwhelm the environment, or … Tuesday.

But just in case you haven’t been able to store up enough resilience yet, I thought I would share my TOP 5 COVID-19 COPING STRATEGIES. Be sure you get your grain of salt ready …

  1. A husband or significant other who will (pretends to?) listen – this has been a big one for me, because I’ve come up with a LOT of information and possible cures that I want to send to the CDC and the NIH and all of the drug companies. But thankfully I’m able to run them by my husband who very thoughtfully considers them and kindly tells me I might need to do a little more research before I reach out. But I’m thinking I really should remind them of that time-honored cowpox vaccine, in case they haven’t thought about that.
  2. Amazon or other online stores with FREE SHIPPING – it’s Christmas every day!! You can find some really random things like “Soft Scrub In-Tank Toilet Cleaner” for mere pennies, and they also deliver CANDY. Need I say more?
  3. Therapy – the most important thing you can line up during a crisis is a cadre of great therapists. And since you’re so miserable and depressed at first, it really doesn’t matter how much it costs because you know you’re going to die any day now anyway. Win/win. Since March, I’ve tried CBT, EBT, EMDR, therapy pets, Tarot readings, astrologists, The Amazing Kreskin, The Long Island Medium, and Miss Cleo. I’ve improved all the way from “definitely going to die from COVID-19” to “I may not die from COVID-19” but I do, evidently, need to keep my eyes open for an albino squirrel who’s really my deceased grandfather and wants me to know he forgives me.
  4. Below Deck” or other quality reality TV – Yes, I know what a contradiction it is to be brilliant enough to find the cure for COVID-19 AND be addicted to a reality show. But I really do need something to take me away from all of the deep thought that I’m doing all day! Now, in all fairness, I am only bingeing on “Below Deck ” and “Below Deck Mediterranean” because … puhleeease! Anyone who can cure COVID-19 isn’t going to watch “Sailing Yacht.” Sometimes I feel like Captain Lee and Captain Sandy are getting into some tough situations, and I try to tell them what they should do … but my husband once again kindly reminds me they can’t hear me.
  5. Home repair – this is such a great and practical way to spend time. For maximum COVID-19 distraction, be sure you choose project that:
    1. you’ve never done before
    2. will take much longer than you expect it to take
    3. includes a high probability that you will get into a fight with your husband (note: this is an excellent COVID diversion. You may want to consider picking fights just for entertainment.)

In case you haven’t tried any of these strategies yet, I hope you find one or more of them helpful. And maybe, just maybe, we won’t need them sometime soon!

Have an interesting COVID-19 distraction? Be sure to add it here!

You CAN Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

When I was in school, the LAST thing I wanted to do was learn anything. I was much more interested in being with my friends and having fun. That “fun” ranged from playing “Lost in Space” with my BFF Andrea on the playground in elementary school, to a different version of “Lost in Space” in high school that had more to do with Saturday night parties than 60’s television shows.. But education? … Background noise!

Thankfully, despite all my efforts to the contrary, I landed on a college major that really meant something to me: Mass Communications. What a perfect way for a blabbermouth like me to do just what I wanted to do – communicate … to MASSES!! 

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that “lifelong learning” is actually very important to me. I also realized that learning is a LOT MORE FUN when you’re doing it because you WANT TO than HAVE TO! I think that’s why my college education was so exciting for me … I was actually learning what I wanted to learn.

As I’ve grown older and am not confined by time and topics that apply mainly to my work, my choices have become a lot more wide-ranging. A class about computer programming? I’m in. A book about snakes? Rattle me that one, Joker! A course on the Middle Ages? Templars and torture devices … oh yeah!

That’s not to say I remember everything I learn … ha, not by a long shot! But sometimes on Jeopardy, I’ll hear an answer like, “During the Middle Ages, it was thought that women could prevent pregnancy by wearing what around their necks?” and I’ll know what the “question” is! (“What are weasel testicles, Alex?”)

The best part is, there are SO MANY WAYS to learn FOR FREE that there’s just no reason not to pursue ANYTHING that you want to.  Here are a few sites to get your started.

General search

You know you can search for classes and ANY information through any search engine (Google, Firefox, Bing, etc.), but don’t forget YouTube when you want to learn … anything!

The second largest search engine behind Google, with more than three billion searches per month, YouTube is not just a website on which your children and grandchildren watch trending videos like “iPhone 12 and 12 Pro Unboxing!” and “Minecraft Speedrunner VS 4 Hunters REMATCH” (the two highest-trending videos right now … [(confused face]). You can also search YouTube and find free documentaries, video podcasts, movies, and short videos on practically anything you want to learn.

Vetted free college courses

There are lots of sites for free online college courses, but my go-to source is Class Central. Its super-easy-to-use platform aggregates courses from providers like edX, Coursera, and Udacity. You’ll find “the best courses on almost any subject, wherever they exist.” 

Class Central is a search engine and reviews site for free online courses popularly known as MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses. You can find courses, review courses you’ve taken (and read other people’s reviews), follow universities, subjects and courses to receive personalized updates, and plan and track your learning. 

They also publish TheReport, featuring “news and trends in online learning” as well as several lists including “Free Online Learning Due to Coronavirus” (updated continuously) and “Free Online Ivy League Courses,” and a list of 115 courses with certificates that Coursera is offering for free (many “MOOCs” offer certificates indicating – typically to potential employers –  successful course completion and ensuring the authenticity and value of the credential. There is usually a cost for the certificate option).  

Class Central is funded through advertising and affiliate links. They clearly denote ads and sponsored search results, and their affiliate and advertising relationships don’t influence the course listing, nor do they affect user reviews.

Creativity

A great site to explore your creativity for free is Skillshare. There you’ll find an online learning community with thousands of classes for creative and curious people, on topics including illustration, design, photography, video, freelancing, and more. Note: Skillshare also offers a “Premium” membership for deeper dives into many courses.

Cultural and educational

Open Culture, the self-proclaimed “best free cultural and educational media on the web,” scours the internet for the best educational media. There you’ll find “the free courses and audio books you need, the language lessons and educational videos you want, and plenty of enlightenment in between.” Open Culture is eclectic! I found things like  “Seven Tips From Ernest Hemingway on How to Write Fiction,” “Ezra Pound’s Fiery 1939 Reading of His Early Poem, ‘Sestina: Altaforte’,” “John Wayne: 26 Free Western Films Online,” and “Learn 48 Languages Online for Free: Spanish, Chinese, English & More.”

And speaking of languages

While we’re on language, there are some great sources for free language lessons online. Take a look at Learn a Language, Duolingo, Busuu, Sign Language 101, and Galludet University.

There are millions of sources of free education on the internet (I feel a little bit like Dr. Evil right now … there are probably more like “billions” of them) as long as we’re “not yet dead” they’re right at our fingertips. Let’s enjoy every one of those Jeopardy answers we can still … answer? … ask? Whatever.

Ernie Andrus: Superstar

Following my tradition of celebrating Molly Shannon’s wonderful characters, today’s blog is the first in a new series called “Superstars.” In the Not-Yet-Dead world (and in my eyes) these are the over-65s who aren’t letting obstacles get in the way of their dreams. They are resilient, adventuresome, experienced, gifted, masterful people, setting an example for all of us about embracing life.

Ernest Andrus is one of those Superstars. I had the recent opportunity to “interview” Ernie via email and decided to start this series because of his story.

Let me get right to the point. Ernie Andrus broke the world’s record for the oldest person to run coast to coast across the United States on August 20, 2016.

He was 93.

And guess what. At 97, he’s on his way back.

I decided to reach out to Ernie one day when I was feeling particularly lazy. If I, at 64, couldn’t rouse myself for a walk around the neighborhood, how in the world did this man have the energy (or desire) to run across the US?

Here’s how Ernie explained it.

“I served in the Navy during World War II as a hospital Corpsman. After the war, I went to UCLA on the GI Bill until I started a family. Then, I spent my working years in drug store and grocery store management. I took an early retirement in 1984 when the company I was working for sold out.

“I always liked to run. The Olympics came to Los Angeles in 1984, and I ran the Olympic Torchbearer 10K run in Huntington Beach. I enjoyed it so much I started running every local 5 and 10K run.

“In my old age most pleasures have dwindled, but I still like to run. I ran two half marathons at 87 and 89 years old, ran my first Ragnar 200-mile Relay at age 88.”

Always Seeking Adventure – By Sea

“As far back as I can remember I was always seeking adventure. A shipmate found there was a ship on the Isle of Crete identical to the one we served on during the war. He had been searching for one for about 10 years. The LST was considered by many as the ship that won the war, and many LST sailors felt it was important to find one for posterity. This was an adventure I found irresistible.

“We were told it was impossible to sail a ship that old across the Atlantic on its own power. The young sailors could not do it because they depend on computers. The average age of our crew was 72. I was 77. We knew we could do it. We spent four months restoring it to seaworthiness. Now in her home port of Evansville, Indiana, the LST 325 is only operational LST in WWII configuration afloat in US waters.”

You can see the History Chanel documentary, ‘The Return of LST 325’ on YouTube.”

Always Seeking Adventure – By Land

“I searched the web and found the oldest man on record crossing the United States on foot was 73. I got so much recognition as an 88-year old man running a Ragnar that I decided to run coast to coast in my 90’s mainly for the fun of it, but with a cause: raising funds to keep our ship seaworthy. I hope to raise enough money to return the ship to Normandy for a D-Day Memorial Service and beach it at the same location where it was on D-Day.

“I started by putting my foot in the Pacific Ocean at Mission Beach CA and finished at the Atlantic, Saint Simons Island, GA – one day after my 93rd birthday. After two years, I got bored and decided to run back the other way. I ran from the Atlantic, across GA, FL, AL, MS, LA and well into TX when my back gave out. The back pain prevents me from running more than a mile.

“My advice to everyone young and old: exercise. About 45 years ago I read an article in a Kaiser Hospital newsletter recommending a group of exercises to get the heart pumping when you first wake up. I believe this has kept me going for all these years.”

I realized that there was one question I hadn’t asked Ernie – and surely someone who has lived 97 years, served in World War II, run across the US (and is heading back) would have an answer worth listening to: How have you learned to deal with obstacles in your life? What do you tell yourself when your plans say one thing and life says another?

“All my life I have sought adventure. To me that’s what made life interesting. I have had many failures. I learned that failures are just as valuable as successes if you learn from your failures. The son of a friend knew nothing but success all his life. He started at the bottom and worked his way up to business manager of a grocery chain. A lifetime of success. His wife divorced him. He hung himself. When something doesn’t work out the way I wanted I just go on living – I’m not yet dead.”

Ernie Andrus – SUPERSTAR!

For more information, please visit CoasttoCoastRuns

If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to LST 325 Ship Memorial, please make checks payable to Coast to Coast Runs and indicate “Donation” in the memo line. The address is 5010 North Tiara Court, Otis Orchard, WA 99027. Ernie can also be sponsored through Coast to Coast Runs.

Ernie’s autobiography “Bare Feet to Running Shoes” and T-shirts are available on his website. You can follow his run on Facebook and/or on YouTube.


I said, “LET’S TALK ABOUT HEARING AIDS”

A few years ago, I realized that the number of times I misheard what someone was saying to me outweighed the number of times I got it right. Or that the knowing nods and smiles I would display when my daughters talked to me were clearly signs of not hearing a word they were saying (especially because I was nodding and smiling while they were saying, “you don’t hear a word right now, do you?”). After a while, it got annoying. For me. And for everyone around me.

So, I visited Dr. Leah Ball at Richmond Hearing Doctors and found out that yes indeed, I had a significant hearing loss at a certain level. (Don’t ask me for too many details … all I know is, I can’t hear my husband talking to me when we’re in the same room, but I can hear someone talking about me from miles away. Amazing!)

Dr. Ball fitted my impossibly difficult ears with impossibly small hearing aids, and it was incredible – who knew RAIN was SO LOUD??? And can you please not accost me with that thundering aluminum foil?

At the time, I was nervous and embarrassed about transitioning from being a “young” person who doesn’t require those things my grandfather wore, to someone who was now officially “old.” And for all the BOTOX and injections that could hide wrinkles, there wasn’t a thing I could do to hide those little plastic things on my ears.

I hated them so much at first that I would take them out all the time. One day, I forgot I had removed them … and I lost them. Thousands of dollars lost because of vanity. I went back to Dr. Ball, ordered a new pair, and embraced a new attitude.

Here’s how.

While aging is one of the most common causes of hearing damage, chronic exposure to loud noises is a big cause also. And let me tell you, l have enjoyed some very loud noises in my life!

I vividly remember the joy I felt the first time my dad took me to shoot pistols. I must have been about 10. There were no headphones – but there was a lot of happiness and pride at being with my father and doing something so “grown up.”

I am delighted by every song I blared on the radio and every REALLY LOUD concert I’ve ever attended, from the Beach Boys asking me, “Do You Wanna Dance?” to Bruce Springsteen loudly and emphatically telling me “Someday we’ll look back on this and it will all seem funny,” …

… to my 50th birthday gift of “Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp” where my bandmates (including Spencer Davis, Dickie Betts, Jon Anderson, Randy Ryder, Fred Dawson, and the entire horn section from Late Night with David Letterman) played gloriously loudly – and it was the best time of my life!

And I’m thrilled by every July 4th fireworks display I’ve ever seen, sitting in the grass with the people I love, anticipating that loud “boom” and not wanting to spoil a minute of it covering my ears.

My hearing aids are a badge of honor that represent all of the joyous “CHRONIC exposure to loud noises” that made up my life. They remind me of experiences that I wouldn’t trade for all the world. Certainly not for vanity. But most of all, they are the promise of enjoying all of the sounds still heading my way.

Problem “Salved!” The Pain-Relief Benefits of CBD

If you’re over “a certain age” and are alive, you probably have some aches and pains. Even the most inactive among us walk (and your hip/knee/ankle hurts) and sleep (and your back hurts. Or your arm where you slept on it funny. Or your shoulder after you shook your arm out. Or your neck after you tried to relieve the pain in your shoulder. … You get the idea).

If I’m not doing ANYTHING and still have aches and pains, you can only imagine what my husband, the habitual exerciser, feels on a daily basis (he’s in constant pain – he just doesn’t complain!).

So when a reader wrote in asking about treating aches and pains with CBD, I thought, “this is a great time to talk to a real expert, someone who can give us FACTS about CBD, and really educate us before we use it.”

Unfortunately, the guy at the gas station convenience store wasn’t really sure about the efficacy, molecular formula, pharmacodynamics, pharmacokinetics, clinical efficacy trials, indications and usage, contraindications, drug interactions or warnings of the “Phoenix Tears” gummies at the counter. 

Clearly, I needed a REAL expert. And I found just the right one!

Founder and president of Integrative Pain Specialists in Richmond, VA, Dr. Ben Seeman is board-certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation with a concentration in pain management. Dr. Seeman completed a three-year residency at the prestigious Virginia Commonwealth University/ Medical College of Virginia’s (VCU/MCV) Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. In 2006, Dr. Seeman was awarded a select fellowship at VCU/MCV in interventional pain management. 

Dr. Seeman’s practice mixes conventional medicine with non-conventional medicine to provide pain relief without narcotics. CBD is among many treatment modalities Dr. Seeman uses in his practice, and he is an expert on CBD. So, I started firing off questions:

NYD (Not Yet Dead): First, what is CBD?

Dr. Seeman: CBD, or cannabidiol, is a naturally occurring cannabinoid that comes from industrial hemp. CBD interacts with cannabinoid receptors in the body. Those receptors are part of the endocannabinoid systems, which plays a role in regulating appetite, pain sensation, mood, and memory. When CBD binds to a receptor, it triggers various activities that help regulate your immune, nervous, and gastrointestinal systems. 

(NYD thinking to herself: Oooooooh, so THAT”s why you get the munchies!!)

NYD: What have you experienced in your practice treating patients with CBD products?

Dr. Seeman: I’ve seen CBD successfully impact patient lives, relieving joint and muscle pain, headache pain, neuropathic pain, and relieving inflammation. Since every person is different, the dose or method of delivery that helps one person may not be effective with another. 

NYD: What are the different types of CBD delivery systems?

Dr. Seeman: the top three products that we use in our practice are 

  • Tinctures
  • Capsules
  • Salve sticks or creams

Depending on the pain you’re targeting you might choose one option over another. If you’re having an ache in your calf, you may try a lotion or salve. If you’re having all-over pain, you may do better with tincture drops under the tongue or capsules. 

NYD (timidly and cautiously): So, um … can you get high (at all) from using CBD oils?

Dr. Seeman: If the CBD is pure, it does not contain THC, the ingredient in marijuana that makes you “high.” Pure CBD may help you feel less pain, less anxiety, or more relaxed, but you don’t have to worry about any psychotropic reactions. 

(NYD thinking to herself: Whew! I really don’t want to see another 257-lb walking carrot with a top hat and cane cruising through my den!)

In addition, many people need to ensure that the CBD they are taking for pain, stress, anxiety, etc. does not contain any THC because of their employer drug testing programs. Without ever meaning to, someone might use a CBD product containing THC and lose their job as a result. 

NYD: How can you ensure the product you are using does not contain THC?

Dr. Seeman: To really ensure quality, I would recommend speaking with a healthcare professional who can best guide your decision about using clinical strength hemp-based products.

In my practice, we use VERSÉA products which are medical grade, cultivated and manufactured in the United States, and formulated to promote maximum absorption of CBD. The plants used to make the products are the highest purity organic, naturally grown, non-GMO hemp. The products offer higher clinical strength than most other hemp oils on the market.

NYD: Is an office visit necessary?

Dr. Seeman: We see our clients twice annually if only for CBDs (For these patients, we do not manage the other aspects of their pain) – The first time to discuss the patient’s medical history  and discuss treatment options, and the next, six-months later, to ensure that the patient is getting the relief they expect. 

NYD: Is a prescription necessary?

Dr. Seeman: No, there is no prescription for the product which is available in our office. 

NYD: Are there any contraindications or drug interactions that people should be aware of?

Dr. Seeman: The CBD tinctures, capsules, and sticks recommended by our office carry minimal contraindications or drug interactions. Our initial office visit includes a thorough discussion on these matters.

Of course, while CBD in general does not cause problems in terms of drug interactions and side effects, I would caution patients who are looking for the true benefits of CBD to consider the importance of purity when choosing their products. 


If you’re interested in learning more about CBD products, specifically VERSÉA, please contact Dr. Seeman at Integrative Pain Specialists (804) 249-8888

You can literally save SECONDS a day with these keyboard shortcuts

You’ve probably heard about keyboard shortcuts – those wonderful little time-saving clicks that allegedly save you time when working on your computer.

Someone (maybe some guy with a little EXTRA time on his hands) actually figured out that you can save 64 hours each year by using keyboard shortcuts. That might be true, but that’s not why I wanted to learn them … I’d probably gain 64 shitty hours cleaning bathrooms instead of 64 great hours drinking tequila and dancing. So no, that’s not why I learned them (nor necessarily why you might want to either).

So why should you learn something like keyboard shortcuts? According to “Think You’re Too Old to Learn New Tricks?” an article in Scientific American, “The ability to live independently requires periodic “upgrades” because of changes in our environment, especially due to technological advances. Cellphone providers are disconnecting 3G networks, and health care providers are moving toward online-only access to patients’ medical records. This means learning how to use a smartphone, or new online portals. And if people avoid learning these skills themselves, it fosters functional dependence—asking others to do stuff for them.”

And that’s why I give learning things like keyboard shortcuts a go. Because the last thing I want to do is foster dependence. It’ll be bad enough if it happens without my encouragement!

It’s totally up to you. If you decide to check this out, do so because of your desire to keep learning something new – don’t you owe yourself those 64 hours?

Watch the video here:

Downloadable Shortcut Cheat Sheet

Don’t be scared to try new things (like the iPhone iOS Update)

I promise the next time I start with “don’t be scared to try new things” it WON’T be something boring like learning a new technology. But since the iPhone iOS 14 update came out last week, I thought this was a perfect time to talk about how freaked out many of us are about anything “techy.”

What’s the deal with our reluctance to learn new technology as we get older? Are we just too impatient to figure it out? Are we too afraid we CAN’T figure it out so won’t even give it a shot?

Are we just so freaked out that if we ask someone for help, they’ll do this as soon as we say, “thank you”?

True, maybe some of the things out there aren’t even WORTH our time, but for the most part, technology advances are there to help us, so it seems like we should get over our fear and just dive in.

My last bosses, Carol Fishman Cohen, Chair and Co-Founder of iRelaunch, and Jill Kravetz, iRelaunch CEO, wholeheartedly supported my fearless attitude about tech. Whether it was podcast production, website building and maintenance, or keeping up with social media channel changes, these women had COMPLETE CONFIDENCE that I could conquer anything I set my mind to. And I think that’s what made me fearless. (Thank you again, Carol and Jill!)

So, I’d like to share that with you. I have COMPLETE CONFIDENCE that you can learn to be the master of any kind of tech you want to learn. So much so, that I’m convinced you’ll be the one to show your children, grandchildren and tech-reluctant friends a few tricks!

And since there’s no time like the present, let’s start with the BRAND-NEW UPDATE that just came out for the Apple iPhone (iOS14). There are lots of cool new features in the update that you might like. But instead of having to ask an eye-roller how to use them, I’ve uploaded some Not-Yet-Dead videos that explain a few of the features step by step.

You’ll see how easy becoming a MASTER OF TECHNOLOGY can be (just take it from the master of hyperbole).

If you haven’t yet updated your iPhone to iOS 14, there’s a few tips on the Not Yet Dead YouTube Channel that can be used on earlier iPhone operating systems. And if you haven’t yet updated from a pager to a cellphone … well, even I’m rolling my eyes!!

Good luck!

Have specific tech questions? Please add them in the comments below. Someone might have an answer for you. Or I’ll try to find an answer for you. Or maybe we’ll just all make new friends. 

Are you f’ing kidding? Oh, and Happy Birthday to me!

I turned 64 a couple of days ago – and like Sally O’Malley would say, “I’m not one of those gals who likes to hide her age.” I couldn’t care less who knows how old I am, because I think I’m doing pretty well for myself. I can still “kick, stretch, and kick” and remember the important things (where I hid that cigarette, where I hid that tequila, where I hid those chocolate covered raisins from Costco, and (sometimes) where I left my cellphone).

So, thinking about this whole “getting older” thing, I decided to take a look at Google to get a feel for what I could look forward to. And according to today’s Google Alert results for “elderly” here’s what’s coming my way:

And the winner:

Really? This is what I have to look forward to? Hell no! I’m not falling for it (and I’m not falling yet either!). I’m going to write this blog and MAKE headlines like,

  • Elderly woman poses as 7-year-old, calls Walgreen’s to demand they let Prince Albert” out of the can
  • 86-year-old former infectious disease expert finds cure for COVID-19
  • Elderly woman tells children, “Keep your $885,000 … I’m spending your inheritance”
  • Those Zumba classes really paid off!” says elderly woman at casino who thwarts robbery with well-placed “kick balls, change” to the groin
  • Elderly Perth man saves four who abandon sinking vessel off Cable Beach in Broome
  • Elderly man swats housefly, transforms into “Jeff Goldblum, Superhero

According to population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, as of July 1, 2019 (the latest date for which population estimates are available) there are 71.6 million people in the US between the ages 55 and 73 (Baby Boomers) – and just over 55 million age 65+ (no thanks to you, stupid COVID-19). And you just can’t convince me that we’re only dying of viruses, getting scammed by assholes pretending to work for the DOJ, or blowing things up.

This blog is NOT going to be depressing. It’s going to focus on all of the great things about being older and, at times, try to find some humor in the things that aren’t so great. Most of all, I hope it will be a place for you to talk about YOUR thoughts and questions about this time of our lives.

I’ll find experts to answer your questions, I’ll ask your opinion, and I’ll make sure you’re not invisible! I hope you’ll join me for this fun adventure!