Monthly Archives: May 2009

The ageless fairy-tale story of Susan Boyle

Susan Boyle, Britain's Got Talent's finalist, proves that we're never too old to have a dream, never too old to pursue it.

Susan Boyle, Britain's Got Talent's finalist, proves that we're never too old to have a dream, never too old to pursue it.

I dreamed a dream –

The ageless fairy-tale story of Susan Boyle


Who hasn’t heard of Susan Boyle, the “older” woman with the angelic voice who inspired the world? She stood before the Britain’s Got Talent judges, enduring their eye-rolling and other visible expressions of dismissal. Patient and gracious, she answered their questions, revealing her age (good grief, 47!), the fact she’d never been given a chance with her singing, and most of all her dream, to sing with the likes of Elaine Paige, a famous English singer. That brought another round of cruel eye-rolls from judges and the audience as well.

Then she sang, and the rest truly is history. Her rendition of I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables gave me goosebumps, and I didn’t hear it live – like hundreds of millions of other people, I saw this remarkable audition on YouTube.


I needed to hear more. I listened to her Cry Me a River, and I saw her second performance on Britain’s Got Talent when she sang Memories, from Cats, one of my lifetime favorite songs. More goosebumps. Her voice is, quite simply, fantastic, but it’s also her interpretation of the songs, the life and passion she gives them. She delivers, and she delivers with a straightforward honesty I’d almost forgotten.

Contrast her performance with the current video pop star kings and divas. Always aware of where the camera is, they “act” their way through songs, delivering carefully rehearsed expressions and movements meant to convince you that their songs are filled with the passion of the lyrics and essence of the song.

Not so with Boyle. She simply sings.

In addition to her unaffected delivery and her angelic voice, she represents hope for women “of a certain age,” for people who have lost the golden glow of youth but have been touched by the rich silver of wisdom and life experience. It’s a tale as old as time itself, embraced more passionately in the United States than anywhere else in the world: Cinderella. Rags to Riches. Rocky Balboa, from downtrodden to triumphant.

Susan Boyle touches all people who have hope in their hearts, all people who have a dream. She demonstrates, with an abundance of grace and patience, that people of all AGES can have a dream. We don’t have to possess decades and decades of a future to strive for something new and wonderful in our lives. We can be over 40, over 60, over 80 – it’s not the age, but the passion in our hearts that counts.

Boyle is exceptional. Youngest of four brothers and six sisters, she never left home. She stayed long after her siblings left, sacrificing her own pursuits by taking care of her 91-year-old mother until her death in 2007. She believed in her dream – learned from a voice coach, attended Edinburgh Acting School, and spent her entire savings to produce a professional demo tape which she distributed to record companies, radio talent competition and local and national TV. She endured such mocking in 1995 at a local talent competition called My Kind of People that she almost backed out of her audition with Britain’s Got Talent.

She came this close to not doing it. She was too old. Not pretty enough. Had tried and tried and failed. Why subject herself to more public humiliation?

Her mother believed in her, that’s why. When it came down to something balancing on those scales we use to make our decisions, her mother’s faith in her, her mother’s urging her to try Britain’s Got Talent, tipped the scales and made her keep that audition date.

There are many fascinating aspects of Susan Boyle’s meteoric rise to fame. From the aspect of age, she gives a precious gift to us, a message. A reminder.

You’re never to old to dream.

Go for it.


“Power” handshake can strain fingers, joints

A "power" handshake put Cindy McCain's arm in a sling. Use courtesy and caution to avoid hand injury.

A "power" handshake put Cindy McCain's arm in a sling. Use courtesy and caution to avoid hand injury.

Avoid the gorilla grip when shaking hands

Didn’t you sympathize with Cindy McCain when she was injured during her husband’s campaign by a “power” handshake? Cindy has had surgeries for carpal tunnel syndrome, and the overly energetic handshake exacerbated her condition.

The accumulated damage of sports injuries and car accidents has taken its toll on my hands and wrists, so I find myself in a vulnerable position during hand-shaking “opportunities.”  I’ve encountered these power-shakers in many places:  businesses,  school functions, even church. The shakers look friendly, eager to mingle and happy to meet me. We’re introduced, and they offer a hand to shake.

He or she could be the size of a linebacker, and I’m afraid they might inadvertently hurt my hand.  What to do?

He or she has no idea how vulnerable my hand is, from injury, arthritis or simply a matter of time.

We don’t have to put our arms in a sling as Cindy did, to protect ourselves, nor do we have to run screaming, or hide behind someone, or mumble about being of “an advanced age.”

This is the defensive position I’ve taken to protect my hands. I give a genuine smile and offer my right hand, using my left hand to “present” my right hand, almost as if offering a plate. I keep my hand close to my body as I do this, so he or she sees I’m protecting it. Then I just say, “It’s sprained. Please be gentle.” Only then do I extend my hand.

The reaction is beautiful. People would never want to intentionally hurt us, so they’re amazingly responsive, often taking my hand in both of theirs in a protective embrace. Very nice!

White lie? Not really.  My hand-shaking equipment *is* strained, with injury and age. My hand is in a vulnerable position and it is easy to sprain. this method is polite, doesn’t require a lengthy discussion about aging and infirmities, while still allowing the warmth of meeting someone to come through – without the danger.

What’s your “healthy-hand strategy” against the power hand-shake?

4 E’s of hand injury prevention

Be your own advocate for hand health

Be your own advocate for hand health

When thinking of my past injuries, which include tendonitis, sprained wrist, carpal tunnel syndrome and a host of others, it occurred to me that most of these injuries could have been prevented by what my mother called moderation.

In a recent blog, Marji Hajic, a certified hand therapist from California, agrees. Her 4 E’s of hand injury prevention:

1. ERGONOMICS – using body mechanics and common sense when completing tasks to avoid excessive wear and tear.

2. EXERCISE – WARM-UP and STRETCHING – It’s just as important to stretch the hands before and during a strenuous hand-related workout as it is to stretch hamstrings before running.

3. EDUCATION – learn how to “address” the keyboard – posture, wrist position, finger position. Even the length of your fingernails can affect hand health.

4. ENERGY – healthy hand habits will not only prevent injury but help the body heal from strenuous hand workout sessions.

Read more about the 4 E’s of hand health at Marji’s blog,

Do you have tips for hand health? Your comments count!  Share with us by clicking on Nocomments or comments, below.

Banish morning stiffness with hand-happy hobbies


Follow Mother Earth's lead and wake up your hands this spring

Welcome, spring!

Oh, what a beautiful morning – for the senses, the delightful fragrance of lilacs and honeysuckle;  for the spirit, because spring inspires; and for the heart, which feels younger in the presence of renewal.

It may not be so pleasant, however, if your hands creak like an old iron gate, first thing in the morning. If they do, here are some tips to get your hands up to par with the rest of you.

Hot Tub for Your Hands
Pamper your hands with a warm-water soak. While soaking, take the time to consider this new day of your life, your “present” for the day, the beautiful here and now. Plan your day, remembering to include a small treat for yourself after you’ve accomplished any necessary tasks.
The treat can be an activity you never have time for – for this day, give yourself the gift of time, fifteen minutes to relax in the hammock or glider, fifteen minutes in the sun without rushing, fifteen minutes on the phone with a good friend.  You decide, and you can anticipate your reward all day long!

Hire a “Personal Trainer” for your hands – you!
What is that saying?  “Busy hands are happy hands.”  Take the plunge into the soft spring soil and garden. Plant something beautiful or delicious.  Or take the plunge into skeins of gorgeous living colors and start a knitting project.  Let your hands dance across the keyboard, and compose a song or write a poem, or a story, or a journal entry for your children or grandchildren.

Go slowly – avoid repetitive hand motions.  Listen to your hands and tendons, and take breaks and stretches so you don’t overdo it.  Build strength in your hand by keeping a stress ball or tennis ball handy. Squeeze gently at first, then gradually increase, and always stop if it feels painful.  This is a nice, limbering-up exercise for your hands, and a good stress reliever, too.

What are your favorite spring activities?  Do you have hand-happy hobbies?  Share them by clicking on comments, below.