Never Too Old: Lessons from a Butte Boy

“Hey Gramps, how are you?”

“Any better babe, and I couldn’t stand it.”

Before sitting down to write I called my grandpa to hear his voice, to listen to his tone, to feel like I was young again sitting in his lap, listening to the hits of the 1940’s on a static radio. Summer hail storms pounding on the roof, sipping sweet lemonade, is where my grandpa shared his life stories. Some were funny, some serious, about life, determination and just being a badass.

You’re never too old to set goals.

My grandpa’s father died in his 50’s, before being able to experience the retirement he wishfully envisioned and dutifully saved for. Determined to avoid this unfortunate circumstance, my grandpa retired at 58 after a dedicated career in the telephone industry. Now 93, my grandpa has been retired for 35 years, a unicorn amount of years in today’s workaholic world. However, a monotonous life of idleness was not on my grandpa’s retirement agenda.

Snorkel in tow, goggles sucked to his face and flashing $300 Speedo swim bottoms, my grandpa swam like a fish. Always seeking a competitive edge, he persuaded my grandma to buy him top-of-the line swim trunks as they promised to make him faster during his morning laps. Completing his final 5k at 87, he participated to claim the trophy each year for his age bracket. Albeit the fact he was often the sole competitor in his age group.

While his physical feats are notably impressive, his competitive and goal setting mindset is what continually motivates me today. My grandpa set an annual goal to swim a mile on his birthday each year, swimming his final birthday mile at the ripe age of 92. Short term goals were always realized as he set out to fix the plumbing by March and the deck by May. Looking ahead, he set goals to be present at all major family milestones. My grandpa was 86 years old when I entered high school. Consciously choosing to ignore statistics, my grandpa concluded he would be there to watch his youngest grandchild of six walk across the stage at her high school graduation. Looking out at the bleachers as I received my diploma, his smile radiated from the acknowledgement of both our accomplishments.

The takeaway? Strive to always progress and stay in motion. Whether it be professional, personal, or desire-driven, setting goals force one to constantly evolve and grow.

There is always time to make someone smile.

 “I sure hope the rain keeps up.”

“Why?”

“So it doesn’t come down.”

 

“Is that your face or did your pants fall down?”

If I have one regret from my childhood, it’s not recording every witticism that spewed unfiltered from my grandpa’s mouth. Butte, America born and bred, his jokes were rooted in the rough-and-tumble yet celebrated era of the small mining town in the 1940s. His clever, and sometimes inappropriate sayings left family, friends, and strangers clutching their gut with uncontrollable laughter. While writing his jokes is an injustice to their effect, his timely delivery made for fits of giggles, regardless of repetition.

Most everyone can think of someone who is immediately liked, can talk to anyone, and befriends everyone who breathes the same air. For me, that’s my grandpa. He always set aside time to get to know someone, share stories, and swap jokes. In our day to day routines it’s too easy to be buried in our phones, focused only on getting from A to B, uninterested in those around us. Before my grandpa left a restaurant, airplane, or any other public space, he knew most everyone in the room. He knew where they were from and who their parents were. My grandpa’s infectious personality is one I always admired and it is the reason he remains unforgettable to so many.

Food for thought: How much better would our days be if we set aside time to simply make someone smile every day?

Show your swagger.

“I’m the finest guy that ever put on a pair of shoes.”

My grandpa at his 92nd birthday, giving old age the finger.

The signature phrase of his 92nd birthday, my grandpa is a man with unlimited confidence, using his high self-esteem and healthy ego to wow others, show humor, and exercise his charm. On a short visit to the ER last year, he falsely convinced the nurses he rostered for the Chicago Cubs back in the day. Now, this isn’t entirely untrue. In his twenty-year-old prime, he played for the Cubs Farm League (Minor League) based out of San Francisco. At a pay of $113 a month, not including room and board, my grandpa left the Farm League after a short time unable to make due on his measly salary. Sharing his fabricated story with his nurses, the nurses doted heavily on him, captivated by his athletic history. Without a doubt in my mind, my grandpa received the best medical care in the ER that day.

His contagious confidence has appeared on multiple occasions, with family events being no exception. At the time, my grandparents had been married for 67 years. In front of all 200 wedding guests, the DJ asked for the key to a long-lasting marriage to which my grandpa simply responded, “She knew she had a winner.” Never ashamed of his best features, my grandpa boasts about his “pretty feet”, a compliment given by a war nurse decades ago. His baldness is even a source of confidence for him, constantly reiterating, “God made a lot of beautiful heads. The rest he covered with hair.” To his credit, my grandpa does have some good-looking feet and has always rocked a naked head. Lesson to take away? Find your source of swagger, whether it be baldness or pretty feet and work it.

“Getting old ain’t for sissies.”

One of my grandpa’s all-time favorite quotes, his youthfulness always seemed to make this quote irrelevant; but today, his hands hurt. He can’t see well. Each time he gets up from his chair, he wobbles like he is going to fall, and he occasionally does. His personality has stiffened with his joints and his laughter is harder to find, buried underneath self-induced guilt of being no longer able to take care of his lawn, race me in the backyard, or swim a mile. Some of this piece is written in the past tense, as age has hardened him and a lack of physical freedom has contained his once free-flowing spirit. But, no matter what age has done to my grandpa, he remains my hero, my unshakable source of faith and my continual motivation to succeed.

At the end of our phone call, like he does every time, my grandpa hangs up with, “I love you sweetheart, more than you’ll ever know.”

Back at ya, Gramps.

 

 

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Adulting 101

A·dult·ing:
Verb 

1. Being a responsible adult. Used by immature 20-somethings who are proud of themselves for paying a bill.

 

Technically, I am not “adulting” yet. But May 13th is approaching fairly quickly, and that is when I am SUPPOSED to (apparently) embark on this next chapter of my life. In order to prepare myself for this whole “adulting” thing, I asked some of my “adulting” friends to offer some advice for all those in my shoes. Here are the most important (and some hilarious) responses that I got:

ONE: “Junk food and beer make you fat”

But how do you adult without those?? Especially the beer… AMIRIGHT?!

TWO: “We’re all just pretending to know what the eff we’re doing.. no one reallyyyy knows”

OOOOH, thank god.. But can everyone stop pretending because you’re making me feel like shit?! Thanks.

THREE: “You will have to work 10 x harder than everyone around you in order to prove that you’re not just another millennial with a degree & a dream”

FOUR: “Marrying someone rich isn’t a bad idea”

I’ll never admit who said this… let’s just say she didn’t marry rich 😉

FIVE: A little disagreement among some adulters:

Adulter 1: “Don’t settle down until you know yourself”

Adulter 2: “Sort of agree but I think people focus a lot on feeling ready and I don’t think you ever have that completely ready feeling.”

OK, go with whichever one you like better. Adulter 2 is my sister sooo, I’ll go with her 😉

SIX: “Bills are real”

Some of us learned this in college, but if you didn’t. WARNING: bills are real and due every month… bummer!

SEVEN: “Having good credit is everything in adulthood”

Not really sure what this means, how to do this, or why it’s “everything” …

But one of my more “mature” adulters gave this piece of advice… so let’s make sure we have good credit people.

EIGHT: “Start saving for your 75-year-old self.”

Ok, this is boring, seems kinda lame, but I guess we’ll thank ourselves later.

NINE: Adulter 1: “Your fridge gets disgusting if you don’t wipe it down 1-2 times a                  month.”

Adulter 2 added: “Pay special attention to the veggie drawer. A lone zucchini left at the bottom can ruin your Sunday”

TEN: “Little things happen all the time and they add the f up. You can pretend you have your adult budget figured out but until you are knee deep in adulting, you have no clue how much it costs to adult.”

ELEVEN: “The dentist isn’t an option….”

I mean…. Was it ever an option? But ok, yes.. go to the dentist adults.

TWELVE: “You are going to turn 30 wayyy sooner than you think and for some reason at age 30 if you don’t have your shit figured out, you WILL go into panic mode… Be ready”

THIRTEEN: “Don’t ask too many people for their opinions. It gets too fuzzy. Trust your gut. Have two really close friends that you trust.”

FOURTEEN: “You are actually busier post college. I was excited to not juggle work and school. In reality, I had way more time for friends and hobbies when I was a student. Can’t explain why or how, but it’s true. Life only gets fuller and busier as ‘adulting’ takes over!”

Yikes….. not really what I wanted to hear. This is reality though, people.

FIFTEEN: “You can’t decide if you admire someone until you have had a peak into their whole world. If someone seems successful at work, look at their non work life. If they are living in a way you admire there too, then they are the type of person to look up to. If you spend your time admiring: Person A) because they are bad ass at their job and loaded or Person B) because they are at all of the school events and soccer games you’re going to feel like a failure in your own life you can’t do all of those things. Find people who have a work/life balance to look up to. They are the people who are truly successful.”

WOAH. Shit just got real. But some really solid advice!

SIXTEEN: “Just because you’re done with school, doesn’t mean you’re adulting”

PHEW!!!! That’s what I like to hear…. I’ll hold off on the adulting then.

Thanks to all the ADULTERS who contributed. You all are kicking ass. To those of you about to start adulting, good luck & let’s be bad ass adulters together!

Say Productive again…. I dare you. I double dare you…

The traditional view of productivity that has been pounded into your head is so wrong.

You’re almost never “traditionally” productive. So stop freaking out. Honestly it sucks seeing how stressed people get about their work, even when they love it. Your real productivity will never be quantifiable in the “output over hours worked” model that businesses use. That has nothing to do with personal productivity! There is so much more to you being productive that whatever tangible output you accomplished today.

Do you find yourself dismayed when you have an idea, but can’t seem to put extra structure to it upon reflection? It’s a relatable feeling. We all want to see our ideas come to fruition, and are almost always willing to put in extra work. But even if you can’t… why are you upset? You had an IDEA! Do you understand how fucking cool that is? That’s abstract thought. That’s peak terrestrial consciousness. You came up with an electrical impulse that fucking meant something? WHAT? Just now thinking about how cool thoughts are my mind is being blown, and at one point you came up with one that had NEVER been thought before? You quite literally, momentarily, rival Einstein at that time. I want to be a writer, a philosopher, a marketer, a politician, a diplomat, an actor, a musician, and a whole host of other things. You want to know how many ideas I have a day? Like, good, content driving, possibly inspirational ideas? Two on a good day. And most of the time they are: what if I gave this character the ability to time travel, or should I write a blog about having ideas, or hot damn what if I put feta cheese on this pizza? Every once in awhile I hit gold though: one time I thought a short story about a species with four arms would be cool. Now I am working on creating a fictional Universe about an Earth-Like planet and a bunch of other weird stuff. That is how ideas work! Write them down! Think about them more than once! It really doesn’t matter at all if you can further anything about it right now, that idea was the most integral part of your soon to be creative process!

Want to really, really know why you’re almost never “traditionally” productive? You’re a living being! I don’t mean you engage in destructive habits to avoid productivity, you just have to spend most of your productivity being a person! Eating, sleeping, loving, showing, hiding, pooping, crying, aging, growing, eating again, you’re most important productive times occur when they are strictly for you. Without that, the rest of the shit doesn’t matter!

I do have some advice in terms of being productive, because I’m sure you didn’t click this to hear some hippie tell you that work isn’t the most important thing in life. I am and it’s not, but that’s not my point here. If you want some tangible advice, I have a few quick tips for you:

1. Eat slightly more than enough food on a day you hope to be productive. Just do it.

2. Find a flow process. There are an infinite number of structures out there, but only a few will work, but one will work wonders. How do you find it? Trial and error. Then perfect it. You will know once you’ve found it because holy shit all of a sudden you produced so much stuff and didn’t realize it was happening, how did you do that? Because you found out how you work, silly.

3. It’s impossible to be productive when your emotions aren’t playing the same game as you. Have a nice long talk with them. Go to a movie together. Eat some chocolate. It’s not about being happy, or content, it’s about being able to let yourself create or do.

4. Procrastinate. This might not make a lot of sense, but have you ever noticed you can, for some reason, write a seven page paper in an hour if its due the next day? That’s still productivity! I’m not saying you should procrastinate everything. In fact, it’s still best if you don’t. But it happens sometimes! So utilize that panic mode to get shit done!

5. Write so much down. Even one phrase notes about stupid ideas you had. They might be usable at some point.

6. Don’t listen to me. Like I said, I had an idea and rolled with it. It seems right to me, and damn I seem witty in this blog, but we are all different. I have no clue how you work, and for all you know I’m crazy.

There you have it. You’re doing fine. If you are feeling anxiety set in because things aren’t progressing as you saw them in your head, try to breathe, because you seriously crush it 24/7. 90% of your life grade comes from eating healthy and sleeping. I personally am proud of myself every time I cook breakfast. Because I know for a year it was coffee and cigarettes. Guess who got nothing done back then? *Points thumbs at self* this guy.

Stephen is a student at the University of Montana. He can’t come to the phone right now, please leave a message after the *beep*.

Lactose Intolerant Forever, Ice Cream Scooper for the Summer

About 75% of the human population is lactose intolerance. Whether or not they chose to accept it or not is their own business.

 

As a part of the 75%, I usually cringe at the sight of people eating straight pieces of cheese. There are other times I try to forget that I’m lactose intolerant so that I can enjoy a slice of pizza after a late night out like a normal college student. I’ve grown up reminding my dad daily that I am still unable to eat cheese but appreciate the thought of him making lasagna for dinner. Unfortunately for me, awkward first dates always seem to end up being made even more awkward when I’m taken to the guy’s favorite pizza joint or out for ice cream. Pizza parties and ice cream parties in middle school were misery. I’ve poisoned myself by forgetting to ask for a milk alternative in my latte or no cheese on my hamburger because the waiter was hot. And let me tell you Oreo’s dipped in soy milk is not the same.

So you’d think that knowing that I am lactose intolerant that I wouldn’t dare succumb myself to the torture of being surrounded by ice cream during the most popular time of year. However, needing cash and a summer time job, I decided to be an idiot and surround myself with the poison that is for me ice cream.

So behold, Scoop Handmade Ice cream; delicious, unique, local and a lactose intolerant’s living hell. Six out of the seven days of the week you could find me hanging out the window of a small little red food cart passing out ice cream cones in downtown Portland, Oregon or driving the ice cream truck from various events in the city.

When I first started working I never let on that I was lactose intolerant. Instead I became very skilled at explaining a flavor of ice cream I had never tried. I shocked people when they asked how I stayed so thin working around ice cream every day and answered with “by eating it for lunch” or that “the gas gage on my ice cream truck is broken so I sometimes have to push it home”. However, on the rare occasion that I let it slip, most of my customers found it very amusing that I was the lactose intolerant ice cream girl. In fact, sometimes having that tid-bit of knowledge slip, made a customer buy more ice cream to eat in my honor or an extra buck was added to my tip jar out of pity.

Although I could never indulge in the delicious handmade ice cream I surrounded myself with all summer long, I still enjoyed my job very much. I was able to meet tons of unique people, and make a lot of people happy with a sweet scoop of ice cream on a freshly handmade waffle cone. The other great thing about working in an ice cream truck is the fact that it attracts dogs and babies, two incredibly cute things. From working that job I learned to parallel park an ice cream truck on the busy streets of the city. I also never went home after a shift smelling like anything but vanilla and waffle cones. I developed one very toned right forearm and I made way better tips than I ever did being a barista. Overall, the good of the job outweighed the torture of being surrounded by ice cream almost every day. I also believe being able to parallel park an ice cream truck is a valuable skill that everyone should have in their back pocket and I would have never learned that working at a pizza joint.