The Sonoma County Gazette: Community News Magazine
Sonoma County Gazette
| more

Photo Gallery

Senior Momentum - May 2016 - Zoë Tummillo


Picking Up Speed!

by Zoe Tummillo

Amazing how many times I hear just the opposite from many of my peers! Isn’t it time you slowed down? My best answer (so far) is: Why? 

For one thing I come from a long line of “type A’s” who were all bundles of energy, with dreams and goals that never seemed to run out. Another thing is that I never found the alternative very appealing – slow down and do what? When I think about those of my forbears, on both sides of the family, who seized opportunity and confronted adversity, it is easy to see that they met both with equal vigor. 

The assumptions that reside in any younger generation, regarding their elders, are not much different than the assumptions I had from the same perspective. Our conceptions of “old” then, seem patently ridiculous now! Those folks were no doubt in their 50’s and 60’s. Perhaps the circumstances and tools and science available then influenced their apparent age; it certainly did influence their longevity.

It is always a hoot, when age comes up, to hear someone surprised at another one’s age. (You don’t look that old!) We guard the barricades with outfits, a little make-up, a positive attitude and a touch of bluff – and enjoy the compliment. There are days, and there are days; but overall, we type A’s manage to push through the debris and move on.

The driving truth is our personal group of limitations that constantly need new functional techniques, tools and equipment. Together with attitude management, we move along. For me, deliberately embracing the realities is the key to picking up and keeping up the forward motion. I had a friend who was quite ill and nearing the point of immobility. I could not convince her to come along with me, in a wheelchair, so we could continue some of the activities she loved for as long as possible. No! She “didn’t want anyone to see her like that.” 

Taking realities by the scruff of the neck isn’t for everyone; I know that, and I understand – especially on tough days. But, when one can re-characterize the concept of their “normal” and press it to its maximum new potential for the factors at hand, picking up speed is possible – and positive

There will always be new information. Each time I get the once over at my many medical check-ups, trust me – there is always new information! I take it in stride, accept the changes and move on to the task of once again re-visiting my concept of normal! The attitude of one’s medical team is very significant. A sober faced, intense, doomsday and humorless medico could be awful in the quest to pick up speed – regardless of the news! 

Why address this dubious choice and press for pressing on? Some of my motive comes from what I observe every day in others on my age group (80’s), and what I hear along the way as I ask questions. It is so complex as to boggle the mind – because the coup-de-gras is always that each situation is unique – as unique as is anyone’s perception of what they can and cannot do about re-defining their normal and their potential.”

Perhaps it’s because of this type A thing my ancestors handed down to me. Perhaps it’s because of the memory of my friend who opted to spend her last months of life sitting in a dim room rather than in a wheelchair, out and about. Whatever my motives may be, I always take the chance and try to see what the potential might be for inspiring someone else to pick up speed, dammit! 

Slowing Down seems to me the quickest way to get to Stop. (Stop is going to get us anyway – sooner or later!) Why not push a bit more, as far as is possible? Give up the bed for a chair, or the cane for a walker with a seat (or whatever today’s limit is) for an inch or a foot further tomorrowin attitude or action. It may sound presumptuous or Pollyanna; it may be a case of: it may be a case of:  “That’s fine for you, you old meddling bat...but my situation is different!”

(Well, maybe, but probably only in size, scope, shape or color!)

Zoë Tummillo is a Business & Marketing Consultant, Trainer, Commercial Writer, dba COMMUNICATION CONCEPTS, in private practice since 1974. In addition to Commercial work, she writes “Senior Momentum: A Series of Situations”; “Pieces of My Path”©, essay memoirs of growing up first generation Italian American; and Senior Momentum: Front And Center!©. To contact her: email: