Beyond the Glass Half Full/Half Empty — The Common Sense Realist

Is the glass half full? Is the glass half empty? Are you someone who wants to be happy or someone who prefers to be a miserable bastard? Psychologists can analyze you till the cows come home, but is it a real measure of your personality and your emotional health, or is it a shallow view of reality?  What about the guy who sees a glass half empty? Is he automatically “wrong” in his thinking?
It’s time to revisit the old model for optimists and pessimists. At some point, we have to become quantitative in our analysis of what it takes to be productive, creative, and effective. It’s no longer a matter of optimism versus pessimism. This isn’t so much about being happy or being miserable. It’s about being smart. It’s about being realistic in taking what we have and using it to make the world better, and in order to do that, we have to look beyond half full/half empty modality, while keeping our knees from jerking automatically into the air as we leap from our armchairs and demand this or that.
Maybe we should start by asking ourselves how much water is there in the particular glass we’re considering. We know not all glasses hold the same amount, as illustrated. Certainly, we can see that the glass on the left holds more than the one on the right. Little Bridget could drown if she tries to drink from the too-big glass with too-much water — she’d be in over her head. If Little Bridget were a member of your family, you’d take pains to protect her, wouldn’t you? You might steer her towards the smaller vessel. She could probably manage that with less risk.
Knowing that one glass has more than the other is important for several reasons. What is the need for water? How thirsty is the person seeking to drink it? Obviously, the smaller glass contains less water, and that means that the drinker will run out of that magical elixir sooner rather than later. Does that matter? Absolutely. It means he or she will have to conserve the liquid in the glass, to make it last. That’s what makes the issue of glass half full/half empty so relative. If you came across your dehydrated Uncle Bob, who just crawled across the Sahara on his hands and knees in a sirocco, you’d want to give him enough water to slack his thirst safely, without causing him new problems.
Over the last few years, I’ve read about the emerging technologies and the amount of money invested in developing them. First there was Solyndra, the solar battery company that received $535 million federal dollars before going belly up. Then there was Fisker Automotive, which received $529 million federal dollars before it tanked (At least the government reclaimed $21 million of that.) What’s wrong with this picture? When we invest that much taxpayer revenue into products, don’t we expect to get a successful set of results?
And before you go thinking I’m some fat-assed, mean-mouthed, disgruntled Capitalist oinker who drives a gas-guzzling Hummer and tosses my trash out the window as I drive, let me define myself for you. I actually use fluorescent light bulbs wherever possible, I recycle, and nothing frosts my butt faster than litter in the middle of nowhere. I’m an animal lover and I’ve been known to pick up broken glass from the beer bottles tossed out countless windows by teenage drinkers as I come across it on the sidewalk.
Somewhere there is a big disconnect between what it takes to care for this environment and what it really takes to take care of this environment. We seem to focus so tightly on the giant issues of environment and we ignore the little, everyday things we could and should be doing. And all the while, we pat ourselves on the back for our environmental conservation efforts. It’s time we get real about half full/half baked.
That’s right. I’m calling America out on its half-full/half-baked environmental policies. There’s something tragic about wasting over a billion dollars on projects that are huge busts. As good as it looked to send all that money off to “environmentally friendly” causes, what could we have done better, wiser?
Did we rush to throw all our eggs into one basket? Did we count those chickens before we knew the eggs were actually fertilized? Consider what that money could have produced if we had scaled back those investments. Maybe China wouldn’t have beat our pants off in the solar battery business, rendering American efforts to produce the technology a waste of taxpayer money. Maybe if Fisker had had to produce a prototype of the actual engine it would use and the battery to power it, we could have saved this country a boatload…nay, an aircraft carrier’s worth of money. Maybe if we took our time and really focused on the issues, instead of slapping a big, fat “happy face” on solar batteries and electric cars, we could have cut off some of those problems before the money was flushed down the proverbial waste compactor.

 

It wasn’t even a case for six of one, half a dozen of the other. Eggs are eggs. Any sensible person knows that it’s what’s inside the egg that counts — yolk and albumen. When the contents go bad, they stink, which is what happened here. This isn’t a fairy tale. No such thing as a goose that lays a golden egg. No amount of alchemy can change reality. The equation was unbalanced from the beginning and the sad thing is it didn’t have to be.
Where were the actual prototypes and why weren’t they tested, retested, and tested some more before the concepts got the go-ahead? Where were the questions when the companies applied for the federal money? What did we get from all that government investment in these two companies when the dust settled and the air cleared? Nothing. The jobs these companies were to create never really came to fruition in the way folks dreamed when that glass was half-full. The technologies that were imaginary remained so. What if the developers didn’t have so much money to fall back on? What if they were challenged to use what they had because that was all the water in their glass? Would they have scaled back sooner, recognized their limitations quicker, and worked that much harder to make one single product that would be viable in the market place?
Sometimes it’s too easy to throw cash at issues and problems. We waste so much taxpayer money on silly causes because people want to be re-elected. Maybe it’s time that all this government waste is examined by citizen committees before the check is deposited in the bank. Maybe we need bipartisan assemblies of average voters to sit down with budget teams, to decide how much money gets thrown at unknown, untested, uncertain investment opportunities. Instead of awarding money to political supporters on both sides of the aisle, maybe we need to have a consensus by Americans that this is an effective, wise use of the people’s money.
Oh, I’m not suggesting that this is how we solve the current budget crisis. Lord knows that issue is so tangled up in politics, it would take a group lobotomy to get sensible resolution there. I’m suggesting that we need to be realistic in our approach to the “Big Environmental Causes of the Day”. We have nothing to show for that money wasted on Solyndra and Fisker Automotive. Maybe if those investments were limited to one million dollars per company, the rest of the billion-plus dollars could have gone to cleaning up old toxic waste sites, coming up with new technologies to work with existing fuel sources in more environmentally friendly ways, and figuring out how to grow corn for ethanol without starving people in Third World countries who need to eat. Maybe then we would have had some money left over to avoid some of the cutbacks for services like air traffic controllers, terror investigations, and figuring out a health care system that actually works to prevent health issues without increasing health care costs through mismanagement of funds and duplication of services.

Every time we settle for the “happy face” on any Big Picture scenario, every time we don’t demand concrete results, every time we ignore the waste and misuse of resources because we’re so desperately seeking the optimistic half-full glass, every time we kick the pessimist in the gonads for kicking and screaming, we’re ignoring reality. If your neighbor borrowed all the tools in your garage and promised you that your yard would look amazing as a result, you’d be pounding on his door as soon as you noticed him lazying around in your hammock, wouldn’t you? If your kid’s teacher insisted that you fork over money for school supplies and you saw that the money was spent on nothing but cotton candy for every kid in your state, you’d be outraged, wouldn’t you? Why then are we so afraid to tackle the issue of environmental stupidity? Why is it okay to waste a billion-plus dollars on two companies that squandered all that taxpayer money and left us all high and dry? Because the cause was noble? It would have been nobler to use the money to take care of business here in our own backyards. Maybe there’s a scientist or two among us who actually could have invented a process that works here and now to help clean up the environment, one that doesn’t cost a bloody fortune or require decades of R&D.

The day has passed where we can afford to toss money at problems. It’s time to demand accountability and responsibility for environmental projects. They should be stripped of their romantic illusions and be treated for what they are — technologies that are supposed to function in the real world, in real time, and with realists behind the wheel. That’s the only way we will ever repair this environment.

Was President Kennedy a Closet Republican?

Oh, don’t go wagging your finger in my face! I know that John Kennedy ran as a Democrat. I’m not a complete moron. But I have a question for you. How could a Democrat use those memorable words:

Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”

In 2012, does that phrase no longer have any real resonance? Nowadays, that sounds suspiciously like a Republican strategy, not a Democratic one. In the age of entitlements and benefits, it sounds almost mean to expect people to invest in the greater good, to actually do more than throw money, be it taxpayer or charity dollars, at every problem.

The political rhetoric on all sides of the aisle has become bitter and divisive. The spin has spun out of control and truth is its first victim. Night after night, our eyes and ears are assaulted by the carefully crafted propaganda meant to make specific candidates look like they walk on water and their opponents look like Lucifer with his pants on fire.

Sometimes, as I watch a political commentator, I long to ask, “If you were talking about anything other than politics, would you consider your comments to be lies?” If these people were playing golf, I’d suspect they were cheating with their scores. I’d have to ask, “Are those regulation balls you’re using?”

Many times we have heard, “All’s fair in love and war,” but is it? Do we have the right to circumvent public decency and moral character to get the advantage? Have we grown so accustomed to people lying, cheating, and stealing that we lie down and roll over when we see it coming?

Do we really want the meanest, snottiest, most belligerent candidates to win by default? Do we convince ourselves that those whose behavior borders on obnoxious are more worthy of the public office because they proved they’re willing to get down and get dirty? Survival of the fittest is not the same thing as rising above. There’s the issue of character, and character is not borne of bitterness and blunt force trauma. No man or woman of character has to bludgeon an opponent to death, figuratively or literally, in order to appear the better choice. The real secret of being a good leader is to block the negative attacks with appropriate responses and offer more. Be smarter, stronger, sweeter. Make me feel like I’m part of the solution and that my efforts matter in making life better for all, not some. Not just those that have. And not just those that don’t have. The middle class is all about stability. We are the backbone of the nation. Without us, the economy stagnates. The poor run out of entitlements and the rich flee to Monaco, where their dollars go farther.

What do I want in a candidate? I want someone who won’t play loose and easy with the facts. I want someone who won’t demonize the opposition — that is surely the mark of a weak man or woman. I want to know why the candidate believes as he or she does. Show me the reasons why he or she is a better choice. Don’t tell me that only those who are morally depraved agree with your opponent. By labeling me that way, you are disrespecting my right to determine my own beliefs. Who died and made you God anyway?

When truth is on your side, use it for the greater good. Point out why it makes more sense. Don’t look down your nose and “tsk, tsk”. For one thing, if I haven’t made up my mind yet, you’re going to leave me feeling like I’m an idiot because I don’t see things as you do. It’s the psychological tool of a bully and I don’t like bullies. Bullies make me mad. Sometimes the bully wins by default, not because he or she is the best person for the job, but because things got so ugly, so nasty, that the good people got scared off.

If you want me to respect you, keep your hands clean and on the pulse of the public. Understand that we may not really see your point of view because it hasn’t been clarified for us in your ads, your speeches, your campaign fliers. Work with me, not against me. Don’t alienate me with an attitude of superiority.

Above all, don’t toss me in the fire pit. Don’t assume you know what I think and feel. Don’t look at me as a vote, look at me as a voter. You want the job? Convince me you have what it takes to get it done. That’s what leaders do. They lead.

If we want better government, we need to step up to the plate. We need to stop looking at our candidates as people worthy of our vote simply because they’re popular and good at sound bites. Ridiculing one’s opponent does make for great late night humor, but leading the country isn’t a job for a stand-up comic. A good punchline isn’t as important as a good idea. Getting me to snicker at the foibles of some doofus doesn’t make me feel safe or proud. When I can no longer see every candidate as a human being, I am diminished by the seduction of the campaign rhetoric. I am buying into the razzle dazzle of marketers, not the worthiness of the candidates they promote.

For most political campaigns, dirty tricks, ugly smears, and a sense of self-importance trump character and real decency. If we want to restore America as a country to be respected and admired, we have to cut loose the slackers and the stinkers. We have to do more than simply accept what’s offered — we have to start digging through the muck and the mud for what’s really there. We need leaders of substance, integrity, and honesty. That means we need voters of substance, integrity, and honesty.

Use your conscience when you vote. Don’t vote for the lesser of two evils — vote for the better candidate. The only way you can know that is to ignore the political rhetoric and focus on what is important. Which candidate has given you a truer picture of his or her agenda? Which candidate has tried to deceive you with spin and magic fairy dust? If your candidate has spent more time wooing and schmoozing with “the popular kids” instead of telling you what he or she really believes, you’ve gotten the circus treatment. “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” Do you want to live in the real world or in the Land of Oz, Dorothy?

Ask yourself the tough questions. If you were going to buy a house, would you purchase it because it’s pretty or because it is well-built? If you were going to buy a car, would you purchase it because that’s a really keen color or because that car is a sensible choice that will work for you now and into the future? If you were going to pick a spouse, would you let looks decide your choice, even if you know the guy is a real rat or the gal is a complete disaster?

Voting is all about picking your future course, even when you can’t see past today. What looks good at the moment has to also function down the road. When you take your hard-earned cash in hand, do you just want to splurge and have some fun or do you realize the need to put some aside, in that rainy day fund, to invest in a better tomorrow? Your political candidates are an investment in your future, in our future.

If you need any more convincing, consider this. Who you decide to vote for affects not only you, but also the rest of us. When you take the easy way out and go with the easy choice, when you don’t stop and question what the candidates really stand for, you are buying into the spin doctors and their happy horse manure. They want you to accept the fertilizer they are selling you, so they pretend this is all about growing bigger blossoms. But remember that as you step into any barn, in any horse race, you’re going to want to wear your boots and mind where you step.

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Want to take a break from the political mumbo jumbo? Download a free copy of my ebook:
Let Slip the Dogs of War: A Bard’s Bed & Breakfast Mystery #1

On the tranquil shores of Lake Champlain sits the Bard’s Bed & Breakfast — not your typical vacation spot. Run by a retired spy and Shakespearean scholar, “Uncle Edward”, and a former bookstore owner, “Beatrice”, whose spy husband, “Benedick”, is forced out of the CIA, their guests are often unruly, secretive, and occasionally downright dangerous. When a Syrian rebel leader’s daughters are sent for safe-keeping, it’s a spy free-for-all Shakespeare would have envied, full of duplicitous deceivers, treacherous traitors, and star-crossed lovers. A dead young woman sporting tattoos is left naked in the Ephesus Suite, leaving Bea and Ben to smuggle the body out of the house without getting caught. A wily French spy, Philippe Grapon, may be working for the French DGSE, the Syrians, the Iranians, the Russians, or any and all of the above. All Bea knows for sure is that Philippe is bad news. Fed up with out-of-control spy operations, Bea has no patience with the calamity that rolls through the peaceful country side like an upside down maelstrom of catastrophic proportions. A long-hidden family secret turns out to be the key to a deadly mystery, but along the way to solving it, Bea finds herself chasing after a stolen corpse, pursued through the forest by a motley gang of spies, and even carjacked by a man who clearly should not be trusted. Even the Bard’s cats, Titania and Oberon, and dogs, Puck and Mr. Darcy, are troublemakers who insure there is never a dull moment in Arden Woods.

HEY Y’ALL — LET’S HOG-TIE PAULA DEEN!

Well, gosh darn it all to the Savannah swamp and back! The Smithfield ham lady has diabetes! And even worse? She didn’t tell us for three years. THREE YEARS! Do you believe it?

I was channel-surfing last night and landed on “The Wendy Williams Show”. When she said Queen Latifah was a guest, I hung around (two bodacious baby boomers AND Jersey girls!) If you’ve ever seen her dish the dirt, you know Wendy loves a juicy story. When Paula Deen’s diabetes came up in conversation, she and the audience saw pay-back time. Why? Because Paula had the nerve, the NERVE, not to tell her public about her medical condition! MEDICAL CONDITION!

Why do so many people want to drag Paula Deen to the woodshed by her big hair? She’s killin’ y’all with that stick a buttah, right? She’s jackin’ up your sugar, loadin’ it into that sweet tea because she wants y’all to ride the Insulin Spinner and the Glucose-Mama-Rama at the Diabolical Diabetes Fun Park. Darn it all to tarnation! That woman is a menace and she needs to be stopped! Let’s all Twitter and get a mob up, so we can tar and feather her before we string her up to that magnificent magnolia tree down by the water, where she waits for Michael to dock the too-big boat he’s got now that he’s Mr. Paula Deen.

Maybe we can go after her because of the weight thing. Paula encouraged us to sit in front of the movin’ pitcher box all day long and dream about food, didn’t she? The extra girth on that Georgia peach will be damning evidence that Paula not only gave herself diabetes with all that rich food, but she gave it to us as well! She was plum out irresponsible, she was!

But wait — can we prove the food she prepared on TV actually caused Paula’s diabetes AND weight gain? If we can, we should all get a class-action suit going against the Food Network, because they have a lot of chefs who use butt-ah and ah-live oil, y’all. We could make millions, MILLIONS! We could nail Mario B., Tyler Florence, and oh, yes — let’s go after Ina Garten (big barn, big house, big bottom — I could get used to living in the Hamptons, y’all), not to mention Ray-Ray (loaded now that she’s got the shows, the books, and the product lines), Anne Burrell (geez — that HAIR! It looks like her fingers got caught in the Cuisinart and freaked herself out!), Guy on Fire (separated at birth from Anne?), and all the other Food Network chefs who like to eat what they cook.

The rotund Paula Deen and hubby Michael remind me of a battery-operated set of salt and pepper shakers my mother had. Short and stout, they just stood there on the table for hours on end, never saying a thing until you picked one up and gave it a little upside down turn. You had to start with the pepper because you wanted to hear the little guy sneeze “Ah-choo!”. Then you grabbed the little gal, so she would reply, “Bless you!”. Hey y’all, maybe we can nail Paula for using salt in her cooking, so she didn’t just give us diabetes, but also raised our blood presh-ah! Ca-ching! Do I hear the sound of a cash register at an all-you-can-grab penny candy contest?

Of course, in order to launch a successful class-action suit against the queen of yum for causing our diabetes, we have to prove is that she wasn’t a smoker for most of her life, because if she is and it turns out she’s controlled breathing difficulties with steroids…. Well, that’s going to put a crimp on the lawsuit. Long-term use of drugs like steroids can actually trigger Type II diabetes, so we’ll look weak if her counsel can prove she’s been addicted to cigarettes for decades, especially if she has COPD or emphysema. Note to our attorneys — we’ll have to get a hold of her medical records….

The real trick is going to be proving that Paula has been getting at least a half hour of exercise every day for decades without our knowledge. If we prove that, we can prove she is irresponsible and negligent, because it was clearly the cooking that caused her blood sugar levels to go floopy, not the lack of exercise, which is known to help prevent or manage diabetes. Y’all remember her telling us to get off our bodacious butts and get moving if we chowed down that gator stew and cornbread? Y’all see a treadmill on her porch when the camera panned her gorgeous waterfront home? (By the way, I’m thinkin’ we can take that house in the class-action law suit….)

Lordy, I think we have ourselves a solid legal case here. Paula Deen’s cooking causes diabetes! The only thing we really have to be careful about is getting those pesky horses back in the Deen barn before the case comes to trial. “Couch Potato”, “Chow Down”, “Make Mine a Double”, and “Park Your Carcass” are the only horses still in their stalls. “Diet Diva” and “Gym Rat” slipped out a few years ago, when no one was paying attention. “Moderation” took off with that good-looking stallion when she had her chance. “Older But Wiser” doesn’t want to hang out in this stable. We have to get busy shutting the barn door once we round up all the fillies. It won’t be easy. I’m betting “It’s All Her Fault” is a cinch to win this year’s Kentucky Derby. Y’all want to join me?

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A serious note to my bodacious baby boomer readers — diabetes is a serious challenge to a growing number of Americans, especially Type II. As a caregiver educator and the daughter of a diabetic who struggled with the disease, I can tell you first hand that it’s never just the food that is to blame. There are often multiple factors, including a genetic predisposition, that can trigger it. Education is the real key to managing and preventing it.

The late, great Julia Child cooked with butter and sugar all the time. She also made a habit of practicing moderation in everything. She took responsibility for her own body, just as all of us should do. She gave gentle reminders from time to time, but she didn’t point her finger or suggest we hoist the guillotine for those who falter.

So, how should we treat diabetics? Fairly, supportively, with an understanding that a lifetime’s habits are often hard to break. Learning how to eat right to manage diabetes is a whole lot different than just going on a diet to lose the pounds. Every piece of food, every spike in blood sugar needs to be micro-managed. Whether using medication in pill form or by injection, it’s critical to get it under control — something often easier said than done. It means relearning how to live your life.

Blaming someone for developing diabetes is as useful as trying to get the horses back in the barn long after they escaped and went nuts in Old MacDonald’s alfalfa pasture. The damage was done long before it showed up in the body as diabetes. Do you bodacious baby boomers want to get your bodacious baby booming butts kicked for all the dumb stuff you did in your younger years (don’t get me started on the Sixties and Seventies…), or do you want to take your bodacious experience and wisdom and put it into helping prevent this disease in the younger generations?

Should Paula have informed the American public about her disease as soon as she was diagnosed? Did she owe us that? Well, do you want your neighbors talking about your hysterectomy at the grocery store (“I heard Hazel’s uterus just about dropped out and dragged on the floor, on account of all those big-headed kids she had!”) or your golfing buddies talking about how prostate cancer caused your erectile dysfunction on the 14th hole (“Boy, was Merv a miserable SOB. He couldn’t score at home and he couldn’t score on the links.”)? Medical issues are not really something nice people talk about publicly, except with kindness, support, and compassion.

Note to Paula’s PR people — if I were in charge, I’d get on the phone to Wendy Williams’ peeps and book Paula on that show. I’d put those two women together to get bodacious with the audience. Let Paula be a bodacious baby boomer who happens to have diabetes she needs to control — that doesn’t mean the party has to stop. You go, girl!

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As a family caregiver educator and advocate, I am passionate about doing right by people who are challenged by disease or disorder and the family caregivers who sacrifice to provide that care. For free family caregiver education, visit my website, The Practical Caregiver Guides:
www.practicalcaregiverguides.com

As always, my ebook versions of the Practical Caregiver Guides for Basic, Cancer, and Home Hospice Care are free at Smashwords. I also write the Practical Caregiver Capers and the Bodacious Baby Boomer Escapades:
http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/practicalcaregiver

Bodacious Baby Boomer Style Guide

If you’ve got a preconceived notion that all bodacious baby boomers come from the South, sport big hair (male or female), rhinestone-Bedazzled tee shirts (women), NASCAR tee shirts (men), and over sized sunglasses, lose that thought. The truth is some of us are Northerners, born and bred, conservative dressers, and hair-impaired. In fact, I know a number of bodacious male baby boomers with receding hairlines and some really bodacious women, like myself, who are not known for our prowess with hair.

Oh, don’t feel sorry for me. As much as I would love to have big hair (and I would), the truth is I don’t know how to take care of it. I’ve had just about every haircut under the sun, and no matter how carefully the hairdresser styles it, the minute I leave the shop, it turns into MY hair. Curls take a turn for the worse. Hairspray? Can’t use it because of allergies, not to mention I hate the feel and texture of stiff-as-a-board hair. Makes me feel like a politician’s wife.

Hair is such an important part of one’s personality. It goes with the face that we share with the world. It can say, “Look at me! I’m gorgeous!” or it can say, “Wow, did I have a tough week!” You never want to walk down the street and have a friend stop you to say, “You look like I feel.” Oh, no. That’s never a good thing.

So, what is bodacious baby boomer style and how do you get it? First, know yourself. What makes you happy, from the inside out? You have to overcome that little voice inside your head that tells you to conform to the world. If you’ve ever seen a depressed person sporting a lot of maroon, you know what I’m talking about. Dreary is as dreary does. Do you want to drag your wagon because you’re weighed down by “I’m supposed to do it this way because I’m old…” or do you want to put an engine on that wagon and go for a ride? Don’t hold back and neutralize yourself into oblivion — use color wisely. Color tells people about your personality, your energy, your mood. A flash of color sends a signal to the brain, saying “I’m on fire, baby! There’s more to me than meets the eye!” Bodacious baby boomers aren’t wild, crazy people out of control. We have a purpose, a direction, a goal. Life is going to be good because we’re working to make it good. Surround yourself with the tools to make that happen. Let color pick you up and get you moving. Color is a reflection of what you feel inside. Use it wisely and it tells the world you feel good about yourself. Use it like a toddler with a pack of magic markers on a white wall and you get a mess.

You can be a conservative dresser and still tell the world you’re a bodacious baby boomer. Even if you wear a suit every day, you can crank it up a notch without losing professional respect. There’s nothing that says your only choices are “uptight Harry” or “Jimmy Buffet wannabe on a hard three-day binge in Margaritaville”. There’s something in between three-piece stiff and casual Friday attire. Nothing says you can’t sport a colorful cravat with that dark suit. Or a pair of colorful pumps and blouse with that skirt suit. Be true to bodacious self and accessorize. Get your whimsy on. Find a fun pair of cuff links that remind you you’re going golfing on the weekend. Find a blouse with a subtle tropical theme to remind you about that cruise you’re taking in six months. Send yourself the message that you’re expecting life to shoot you some good shots, because that’s when you’ll track that ball and actually catch it. If you believe the winning shots are out of range for you, you won’t jump high enough to grab them. You have to catch the ball and play it to score.

I learned that lesson in my thirties, when I used to play tennis with a retired champ. He beat me regularly because I didn’t understand the strategy he used. He knew he couldn’t outrun me. He didn’t try. Instead, he hit the ball all over my side of the court, wearing me down. He won by making me do all the work because he could anticipate my moves and stay one step ahead of me. His experience and knowledge actually let him play a better game until I finally caught on. I stopped reacting and started acting. When you let other people dictate what you do and how you do it, you follow their lead. When you take charge of your own life, you point yourself in the direction you want to go and you make things happen. Use your life experience, your wisdom, and your energy to live a bodacious baby boomer lifestyle.

Bodacious people aren’t the loud crowd at the local Hooters, making raunchy jokes about cleavage and carpenter’s crack. Bawdy is not bodacious. Bawdiness is, well…bawdy. Bodaciousness is crackling energy that exudes an air of bold confidence, determination, and pride. Fanny Flagg, one of the most original of the bodacious baby boomers, knows that you reach the age where time is short and life is unfair. You awaken to the realization that you just have to stop worrying about what other people think and be who you are. When you’ve taken enough of a mental beating in the bull ring, you just have to take that bull by the horns, flip him on his backside, and tell him to go pound sand. Fanny had the wisdom to let her character, Evelyn Couch, say it best in her wonderful book, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe: “Face it, girls. I’m older and I have more insurance.”

Bodacious baby boomers aren’t affixed to any particular race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, political party, or socioeconomic group. We’re old enough to understand that life is complicated and what’s good for one bodacious baby boomer may not fit another. We appreciate when bodaciousness awakens the timid from their quiet, unassuming, unimaginative sleep and they spring to life. Trust me when I say this. The game ain’t over till it’s over, and the sooner you learn that, the better the chances you can hit that home run before the last inning.

I saw a makeover show on an almost-bodacious baby boomer recently. The under-50 stylists decided to redo “Mama” top to bottom, after seeing her dress like her daughter, mini skirts and all. Trouble is they took away “Mama’s” big hair, the hair she kept telling them she loved. Right after it was dispatched to the salon room floor like the winter coat of a ewe in sheering season, “Mama” had a complete meltdown and never recovered. Not only did it spoil the rest of the show, she immediately went out shopping for hair extensions. “Mama” went right back to her old style because they never saw her hunger to be bodacious. That haircut she got was…ordinary…boring…dull. The stylists were so busy trying to prevent her from competing with her daughter for men, they totally missed the mark. When you help “Mama” feel good about herself from the inside out, she feels sexy and vibrant. When you chop off her hair and stick her in matronly clothes, the little girl in her rebels. Bodacious Baby Boomer Psychology 101.

That’s the difference between stylists trying to force “Mama” to dress like their interpretation of “Mama” and a bodacious baby boomer stylist like Tim Gunn, who looks to dress the woman behind “Mama”. Tim understands that clothes make the man or woman, but only if the wearer feels good in them. He would have had the good sense to take it slow and ease her into her new look in flattering ways, gently, kindly. He would have understood that emotional attachment to the big hair and worked around it, strand by strand. Tim has the good sense to appreciate that a transformation doesn’t just happen on the outside.

And bodacious baby boomers are all about transformation. We often hear about mid-life crises that people have. The truth is a mid-life crisis can trigger some positive transformations, but only when bodacious baby boomers understand and appreciate that power. You don’t have to go out and buy leather pants and a Jag to be bodacious. You don’t need to replace a bald head with plugs or get Botox. It’s okay to be what you are and how old you are, provided you keep yourself young at heart and nurture your inner child. Bodacious baby boomer style is all about living an active, vibrant life even as the wrinkles start coming.

Think about it. You can park your carcass in that overstuffed recliner and watch reruns of “Married with Children” for another couple of decades or you can decide to take control of your future and have a good life. When you look in the mirror, are you going to let those crow’s feet tell you what you’re going to do for the next twenty or thirty years and how you’re going to do it? Or are you going to say, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” Don’t put yourself on a dinky little life raft, afloat in the Big Sea of Life without a paddle. Build yourself a seaworthy vessel from the inside out and take the helm of your ship. Embrace the bodacious voyage, Captain! That what bodacious baby boomer style is all about.