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Number Love

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Number Love

Numbers were never my friend. Until now.

In the old days I was terrible in math, messed up on calculators, and always miscounted the number of place settings at holiday dinners. I even lost at Gin Rummy.

Things have changed.

Today we’re drowning in numbers. From calculators, statistics, and blood pressure machines to Sudoku and card games, it’s number love.

When I asked my four-year old granddaughter Emma how old I was, she took a deep breath and summoned up the largest number she could think of: forty.

I couldn’t hug her enough!


Then I had an epiphany. I dragged out my calculator and went to work. My true age blossomed.

I’m fifty-one years old not including the summers.

I’m forty-seven years old not including major holidays and weekends.

And the best?

I’m 43 years old on the planet Venus.

Who’s going to argue? I’m not lying – unlike studies that have found up to 75% of people in social media lie about their age. Even Jennifer Lopez lied, saying she was born in 1970 when it was actually 1969. People love to fib about their numbers whether years, dollars, or pounds.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Number Love means that we can honestly tweak whatever we want from weight and cups of coffee to income. On Pluto I weigh a mere 10 lbs. I only drink one cup of coffee a day (the cup is 64 ounces). I earn six figures ($000,000).

No fake numbers – just revisions.

Think about other numbers in our lives, like pants size, phone numbers, and canasta. Some may not be as cooperative as your age on Venus. Calories, fat grams, and LDL can be downright annoying. Simply avoid them by talking about fun numbers, especially when you’re having dinner with boring people:

You share your birthday with nine million other people on the planet.

You spend about 25 years of your life asleep.

For every human there are 200 million insects on the planet.

Who knows that better than the orange man in the White House? His numbers fill the media, like “45.6 million people watched the State of the Union speech – the highest number in history” (wrong – Obama, Bush, and Clinton had more) or the claim that there were millions at his inauguration (the number was closer to 250,000).

Maybe he should switch to fake numbers like truckloads and gazillions?

We tend to be loyal to our numbers. Journalist Rupert Cornwell, brother of John le Carré, wrote that “the US obsession with numbers is a symptom of the nation’s desire to predict and control everything from baseball to hurricanes.”

It makes sense. Numbers give us vital information like who has the most followers on Twitter (Katy Perry at 94.5 million) and how many calories in a serving of Ben & Jerry’s chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream (270). We can count exercise in steps (an average of 5,000 – 7,000 per day) and how much most Americans watch TV (4 hours and 51 minutes a day).

We identify the top baseball player by the best batting average (in 2017 Jose Altuve had a .346) and the richest person in the world by his zeroes – Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is worth $90600000000. Bezos beats out Bill Gates who only has a paltry $90000000000.

Simply put, numbers tell us a lot about who we are, what we have, and who we’re not.

Unless you live on Venus and weigh in on Pluto.

Dr. Jeri Fink, author, photographer, traveler, and family therapist, challenges the creaky myths of aging. She believes that now is a creative, exciting time to grow and explore new ideas, people, and places. Visit Dr. Jeri at or to enter her world of discovery, fun, and insights. Her most recent project, Broken, is a series of seven thrillers and one nonfiction book that defies tradition.

She tells us: “I challenge the art of storytelling by merging fact, fiction, photography, and time into riveting, bestselling novels. It draws from my work as a social worker; expertise in family psychology and history; professional research; and passion for photography and abstracted reality. My 28 published books, hundreds of articles and blogs, speaking engagements, and active online presence all reflect who I am today.”

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