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Senior Momentum - January 2017 - Zoë Tummillo


Hope Means Facing Down Demons...

by Zoe Tummillo

(Please. Not again...) It’s like an Off-and-On switch, to my way of thinking, with no handy electrician to modify, moderate or fix. Yet, all the seasonal fuss and clamor and songs and cards and the Salvation Army bell-ringers wishing you a Merry Christmas, etc., kind of forces the concept into your consciousness: Be hopeful! A New Year looms!

Okay! Okay! I’m trying. Looking back at 2015, hopefulness is a challenge rife with high and positive points (the things we all should probably feel good about), as well as wrenching and astounding lows, from senseless deaths to shameful candidates. And that’s just to mention the public, mutually experienced stuff that we endured and shared. (It doesn’t matter which side you were on.) 

Going inside is another matter. I really believe that most of us go around with dual presentations of self – particularly in these times that boggle the mind. Presenting seasonally joyful outside, while still stunned inside, looks to me like a pretty common reality. Maybe I’m wrong. But, I know I’m right that balancing the two aspects can be exhausting.

...because both are valid, both seem reasonable and we humans are masters at such dualities. (Case in point our recent political production – the envy even of Broadway.) Going forward, if you are passionate about these matters, it feels like the proverbial mountain that must be moved.

Consider where to begin. My father said I should “...always begin at the beginning, Pigeon! That’s the only way you will get all the parts in the right order for when you need them!” So, as 2017 crashes into being, I am trying to figure out my beginning point for what feels (to me) to be a crucial, significant and telling point in my life, and in our country’s history. 

My role is barely significant! I might not (probably won’t be) here to see my beloved country manage to get on the other side of the travesties that seem bound to unfold in the coming era. I know, I know, “we” are famous for historically surviving even the infamous. Just don’t let’s get too cocky about that!

Over and above what I hope does not seem too doom-and-gloom, I am an incomprehensibly hopeful person; yes I am. How that has been able to survive my cynicism is just one more mystery. I explore that mystery on a regular basis – only because it’s where I find the balance I need to do something other than symbolically sit in a corner sucking my thumb, wide-eyed and scared xless...

That darn song from “Annie” keeps running through my mind like an annoying little pest! Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow – it’s only a day away... A child sings her heart out with a kind of joy only children can project – implying that no matter how bad something seems, anyone can wait ONE day! 

It reminds me of a simple tool I used for many years with small business clients overwhelmed with the realities of owning their own business or practice. I’d have them sit down and make two lists: what was good and hopeful in their lives, and what was truly awful and really unmanageable. Without exception, halfway through what seemed to be a pointless exercise (that they were only doing out of respect for their consultant, truth be told!) something would begin to change in how they viewed the things on the lists. (I secretly believe that the word “unmanageable” nudged their ego just a bit.)

Many times, I’ve practiced what I preached. I say these things at risk of seeming Pollyanna-ish. Yet, things hit so many of us like sucker punches in 2016, that it throws you for a moment back into that search for simplistic answers and fail-safe solutions. There are none.

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: