Aging Gracefully and Authentically

Lots of candles are great!

Aging is inevitable. I loved turning fifty, I didn’t even mind sixty but seventy has to be the best of all.  I even check my driver’s license to make sure that I am 70.  This has nothing to do with any external process I’ve had done to keep me looking fewer years than I am. Unless you count cataract surgery… and that really only helped me see clearly how old I am.

What are the keys to aging gracefully and authentically?

One key is attitude.  One key is fitness and perspective.  One key is continuing to learn and to be interested in the world outside your abode, your small universe.

I don’t have these issues nailed but I do aspire to have them core to my existence.  That’s what we are talking about here.

It’s odd now to read a book and come across the phrase, “an elderly lady of sixty.”  That doesn’t seem elderly to me anymore!  Everyone I know and hang with considers elderly to be about 15 years older than their current age.  Whatever that age happens to be.

Again, attitude is everything . . .

The information above also applies to men.  Fortunately, I get to relate and share in lives of many retired women and men in similar age groups.  That is one of the benefits of living in an active retirement community.  My husband plays tennis and is on a men’s team here.  While I didn’t begin tennis in earnest until my sixties he has played for a long time.

He recently returned to the tennis court with other guys at his level both older and younger than he is.  He was out for a couple of months following shoulder surgery.  One of the octogenarians he plays with asked him how he was doing.  My husband responded that his serving shoulder was a little stiff. The response:  “Is that all you got?”   “I got one lung and had a quadruple bypass last year!”

There is no room for complaining or kvetching about “stuff” when surrounded by others who are living positively with similar experiences.  We are all busy playing and learning or helping and visiting or bicycling and travelling.  Certainly, if someone experiences an illness or injury, a dozen friends will be there to give assistance but overall the outlook is positive and the expectation is to be positive.  Those that are the most positive are the ones who affirm life for everyone else and in turn they reap the benefit themselves.

We’re living longer . . .

Lydia Bronte, author of The Longevity Factor, points out how our lives are growing longer.  Longevity increased during the 1900s more dramatically than at any other time in recorded human history.  In less than 100 years, the length of adult life has doubled. We’ve gone from an average life expectancy of 47 to one of 76, and still climbing.  From 1900 to 1994, we added 29 years – almost three decades to life expectancy.

The extra time starts to click in around the age of 50.  And to make it even better, even though we live to an older chronological age, for reasons scientists don’t yet understand, that extra time for most is not spent in old age.

“If you ask, ‘what is the single most important key to longevity?’ I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.”

American actor and humorist George Burns, who lived to age 100. 

And we’re living better . . .

It is actually a second “middle age.”  The first middle age is from 35 to 50; the second follows that before reaching old age somewhere above 70.  In other words, it is not unusual to have more than one peak with multiple opportunities to peak throughout our longer lives.  I found this very exciting and encouraging. At 73, I may still make the senior tennis pro-tour.

According to Bronte, here are some well know examples of those later in life achievements.

  • Dr. Linus Pauling made a discovery in his early 30’s for which he subsequently won a Nobel Prize.  Pauling went on to make other scientific discoveries and then in his late 40’s took ten years to go around the world speaking on behalf of world peace for which he won a second Nobel Prize.
  • Science fiction writer Isaac Asimov started shaping his career in his early 30’s then continued at his craft producing until he died at 72
  • Julia Child is an example of peaking again after 50.  She discovered French cooking and trained as a chef, founded her own cooking school and worked on a cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking published when she was 50.  She then began her TV series.  Her career lasted into her 80’s.
  • John W. Gardner was president of Carnegie Corporation of New York.  In his late 40’s he wrote Excellence:  Can We be Excellent and Equal Too?  He went on to become the Secretary of HEW in Washington.  At 79 he accepted a professorship at Stanford University Business School.

There are countless stories about the joys of reinvention after “retirement age.”  So I’m hoping to keep on reinventing myself forever.  How about you?

Dixie and Pam

Writers@richlyaged.com

 

 

 

Eight Ways to Get Connected in the Neighborhood

Front porches make good neighbors!

Oddly enough, the front porch is making a comeback. Folks still have the back patio for cook- outs and relaxing but newer houses are incorporating front porches that at least accommodate a couple of chairs.  There’s a reason for that.

People want to feel connected . . .

Dixie witnessed the new phenomenon while spending a few years near her daughter’s Fort Worth suburban neighborhood.  A number of young married families used their front entry garages with the garage doors open to sit in lawn chairs, have a cocktail, visit with neighbors and watch the young kids ride their bikes or skateboards.  This invited personal contact with other neighbors returning home from work. Something similar to the front porch.  It’s a great idea.

This has got me thinking about my own “connectedness.”  How accessible am I, really, to my neighbors?  Not very.  Oh, I wave if we’re going to the mailbox at the same time, but out of the ten homes in our cul-de-sac, I only know a couple of people very well.  I’d like to change that, but I don’t want to seem weird.  So, I’ve been doing some research, and here are some of the good ideas I’ve found.

How to get connected . . .

  1. Be a friendly neighbor.  Say hello to everyone and give them a grin.  People forget how much a simple smile can mean.  A smile shows that you’re interested in connecting.
  2. Use your dog. I’m not kidding.  When I think about it, I know the names of the dogs who live in this cul-de-sac better than I do the people!  Almost everyone likes to talk about their pooch.
  3. Be complimentary. There’s always something good to compliment.  That cute dog we were just talking about?  That beautiful vine on the front porch?  That adorable baby?  Even that pretty scarf. It’s hard to dislike someone who has nice things to say.
  4. Join a team or a group in the neighborhood. We play tennis, and soon we met everyone in the community with an interest in tennis.  But it could also work with golf or bridge or painting or quilting or yoga or lots of other things.  It’s easier to make friends with someone who shares your interests, so this is a great way to increase your accessibility.

And a few more . . .

5.  Go to the same places and become a regular. If you like to go to the pool, go at about the same time of the day and sit in the same place.  Soon you’ll become “a regular” and people will miss you if you’re not in your spot.  This can also work at the coffee shop or the pub or the nail salon or any place else you go on a regular basis.

6.  Consider starting a group. Do you love to run?  Maybe there are neighbors who would like to run with you.  I’ve almost always had a walking partner over the years, and I’ve made really good friends while walking and talking.  Do you like to garden?  Want to share cuttings?  Do you love reading?  How about a book club?

7.  Be on the look-out for new people moving in and befriend them.  They’ll be grateful, and you’ll have a new friend.

8.  Never turn someone down. If someone invites you to do something, and you’re free, just go for it.  You never know.  It could turn into something great!

Here’s to feeling more connected!  Let us know how it goes.

Pam

Writers@richlyaged.com

 

 

 

Rejoice: This Is Your Time

Our life includes many phases.

Dixie used to have a plaque outside her front door that simply said:

“To everything there is a season.”  Here is the entire quote:

2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted

3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up

4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance

5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 King James Version (KJV)

There is a time for everything . . . Now is the time to rejoice!

 It’s true:  There is a time for everything.  We’ve reached the time for retirement and deserve to enjoy every moment.

Frances Weaver in her wonderful 1996 book, The Girls with the Grandmother Faces captures aging in a benign and loving way.   She writes about a time when her granddaughter Sara was helping her straighten up the house.  When her granddaughter asked why she was cleaning, she said it was because “the girls” were coming over that afternoon to play bridge.  When Sara wanted to know  what girls were going to be there, Frances explained that they were her friends, the women her age.  Sara said, “Oh you mean the girls with the grandmother faces.”  Here’s a link to the book.

Our own grandmother faces . . .

Dixie tells a story about a time two of her granddaughters came to visit in Florida in our 55+ retirement community.  In addition to getting to drive our golf cart around the community, they were fawned over by our friends and other grandparents and included in dances, activities and our everyday fun life.  I’ve known Dixie’s  granddaughters since their birth and her children since they were toddlers.

After spending lunch and a shopping outing with us, 13 year-old Morgan commented that Dixie and I talked just like she did with her friends. When asked what she meant she said, “Like how things fit, how a lipstick looks and if certain pants made your butt look big.”   We started laughing.  She was right!  Since we’d never been 70 before and observed by a teenager, we realized that we really were “girls with grandmother faces.”

Pam Mangene and Dixie Shaw, Grandmother faces!

We are truly blessed . . . Practice gratitude.

Well, yes, we are, and we rejoice in this time.   Women our age have more buying power, better health, better housing, more freedom, and more opportunities than any single group in history.  We are truly blessed by the world in which we live.  And we know it.

Thank-you.

Pam

Writers@richlyaged.com

Decide what Spirituality means to You

 

Spirituality: picturesque found in Rome

Sound easy?

The spirituality topic has been debated, questioned, studied, taunted, scorned and heralded throughout the ages.

We’re not going to join that debate.

What does spirituality mean to you personally?

As a point of information, the question here is not “what is spirituality” but what does “spirituality mean to you personally.”

Much of the retirement suggestion material in richlyaged.com posts deals with the new you and who you will be in retirement.  Our entire focus is to promote positive aging.

How does spirituality impact positive aging?

Spirituality: found in the ethereal in Spain

Is there a connection between positive aging and spirituality?

Two viewpoints are shared below. Click the link to University of Minnesota  spirituality study.

Spirituality may help you live longer.

An exhaustive review that compared spirituality and religiousness to other health interventions found that people with a strong spiritual life had an 18% reduction in mortality

Spiritual people make healthier choices.

Adhering to a particular spiritual tradition may bring an indirect health benefit because many traditions have rules about treating the body with kindness and avoiding unhealthy behaviors.

So in the discussion of what spirituality means to us, on an individual level, we find important components in our spiritual aging process:

  1. developing wisdom
  2. letting go gracefully
  3. unconditional love

How you define your own spirituality doesn’t necessarily need to have a label. You just need to be able to recognize it.

pompei
Spirituality: found in the ornate in Pompei

What determines your spirituality?

Many times we are too hurried and busy in our careers. We are consumed with parenthood and other relationships and we want to scream STOP! Time seems too tight to develop wisdom, compassion and unconditional love.

As mentioned in an earlier post,”hurry is the enemy of love.”  Love requires time; time to listen, to understand to support. In our later life, the retired one, we have more time to look for and listen to our spirituality.

My Spirituality Story

On a personal level, I grew up in a household that didn’t practice religion.  My mother and I attended church occasionally in a Midwestern legalistic religious setting. My dad and brother stayed home.

I thought hymns were difficult to sing and sermons were an opportunity to get to draw pictures on the church bulletin. Finding the hymnal page was hard but not as hard as understanding the words.  No one near me could follow those hymns either, especially the second and third verses.

Most of all, I wanted to be able to raise my hand on Monday mornings at elementary school. My third grade teacher asked for a show of hands for how many kids attended Sunday school.  Those who attended got a gold star on the Attendance Bulletin Board.   Those who didn’t attend felt crummy. But I knew that I had a spirituality inside me.

Spirituality: found in the majestic at the Tetons

For years I was a seeker. I visited churches wherever I went.

Sometimes, when you have a “can do attitude” and are a “survivor”, (whatever that means) you develop a tenacity that feels you can do it all “on your own”. You don’t need any help.  You’ve succeeded by your own abilities. I think I fell into that category. Finally, I reached a point in my adult life when I could no longer do it all “on my own.”

What I tell friends now is that my adult children prayed me into church.  It’s true.  I was ready.

  • This time, the simple heartfelt contemporary songs really were prayers.
  • The sermons really were written especially for me.
  • I left this all accepting sanctuary with a fullness that helped me come closer to my Father with a peace and calm I hadn’t experienced before.
  • I no longer have to take care of things to “on my own”.  I don’t need to.

I’m embracing my spirituality, my new found peace and gratitude.  Though, even at this age, I’m still a daily work in progress.

So what?

Spirituality: found in simplicity at Ground Zero NYC

This is my experience. Doesn’t need to be anyone else’s. There are lots of studies about being a believer and the impact on positive aging.  There are probably an equal number that champion the opposite viewpoint.

Everyone gets to make that determination on their own.  Just sayin’.

Dixie

  Retire from work, but not from life.
— M.K. Soni

$70 increase: Senior Lifetime National Parks Pass

 

Seniors! Shop now for your Lifetime National Park pass before the increase.

Important Information:  Senior Lifetime Pass for National Parks increases from $10 to $80 August 27, 2017.  If you are 62 or older, buy your pass before August 27, 2017.  The lifetime pass increases from $10 to $80 in one month.

If you have a current lifetime Senior Pass, you may continue to use. If you lose it, you will need to replace it at the new fee.

Best way now to get the Senior Pass

The increase announcement has caused a backlog of mail and online purchases.  The ideal way to obtain the pass before the increase is to visit your nearest Federal park facility.  Follow this link to find your nearest National parks by states.  You will need to provide a photo ID, driver’s license or passport.

 Question:   How much does a National Park pass for seniors usually cost?

National Parks offer Majestic Adventures

The Senior Pass is available either by mail or in person at many federal recreational sites. The mail-in application requires an extra $10 document-processing fee. To find site locations or mailing information, Web users can click Buy Recreation Passes at USGS.gov. 

At vehicle-fee sites, Senior Pass holders and their passengers in non-commercial vehicle can enter for free. At sites that charge per person, the Senior Pass allows up to three other people in the pass holder’s vehicle to enter the site for free.

U.S. citizens or permanent residents of age 62 or older are eligible for a senior pass. The pass provides access to over 2,000 sites. Pass holders are eligible for discounts on other amenities, including guided tours and campsite fees. The pass comes in the form of a hang tag, which can be displayed on the dashboard or rear-view mirror of a closed vehicle or as a decal for use in open-top vehicles.

To repeat; If you have a current lifetime Senior Pass, you may continue to use. If you lose it, you will need to replace it at the new fee. So hang on to it!

Question:  How do you get a senior discount pass for state parks?

National Park Babbling Brook

Policies on senior discounts for state parks vary by state. In most states, a discount pass is available to those age 62 or older. Usually these passes can be purchased by mail or through the state’s Parks and Recreation website.  Check this link to ensure that the quoted amounts are still valid.

As an example, in California, seniors can get discounts at state parks simply by showing their valid photo ID. The “Golden Bear Pass” is available to seniors receiving SSI or CalWorks aid. This pass costs only five dollars for each calendar year and allows the bearer and their spouse entry to most state parks without having to pay a vehicle usage fee.

Vermont’s “Green Mountain Passport” is available to seniors who are Vermont residents for only two dollars. This pass provides free day use for life to seniors aged 62 or older and to honorably discharged military veterans.

Seniors aged 65 or older in Missouri only need to show their valid photo ID at campsites to get a discount of two dollars per night.

Find additional questions and answers about the increased fee.

For more questions and answers on the new fee increase follow this link, USGS Update

Questions about why the fee jumped and information about other benefits included with the Senior Pass are discussed.

My recent story about National Park passes

J.N. “Ding Darling” National Wildlife Refuge
Sanibel, Florida

We are visiting Rocky Mountain National Park at the end of the summer.   I checked back to my previous National Park article, went to USGS and was surprised to find the increase.

I visited the National listing for parks in each state (link above) and found the nearest location to me in Florida. Called the number to confirm that Senior passes were available, what they required for identification and their hours.

We drove to J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge and purchased our passes in the Nature Gift Store. They looked at our photo drivers licenses took our $10 per pass and issued us our cards.

In Summary

The transaction took five minutes.  While there, we used our passes to do the driving tour through the beautiful refuge.  Everyone was pleasant and helpful.

Get your pass as soon as possible.  Remember, If you lose it, you will need to replace it at the new fee. So hang on to it!

Dixie

writers@richlyaged.com

richlyaged.com

Share Your Talents – Reach out to others

Share your gardening talents with others. Brighten their day.

Reaching out to others is important to your happiness.  Sharing your talents and skills will benefit both the receiver of your talents and you as the giver. Volunteer gigs were covered in our February post. Taking care of the elderly (however old elderly is?) is one way to share our good fortune with others.

But I am not necessarily talking about structured volunteer opportunities or about monetary sharing.  I’m talking about the sharing you can do from your own home. More like sharing plants, cookies, books, magazines, laughter, game playing and most importantly time.

Share your sweetness with neighbors and friends.

Share your talents.  You have a wonderful set of skills.  Different from anyone else’s. Share those skills whenever you want to. What would that look like?

  1. Are you a good cook?
  2. Do you like to bake?
  3. Is gardening a gift you have?
  4. Can you sing?
  5. Do you have the knack of remembering and delivering a good joke?
  6. Are you always crocheting something?
  7. Do you like to work jigsaw puzzles?
  8. Are you a talented woodworker? Birdhouses?
  9. Do you have computer skills?
  10. Do you have a green thumb?
  11. Can you handle a screwdriver?
  12. Are you a thrift store guru?

What’s your special talent?

Sometimes we get great pleasure from creating something.  Anything.  But the four dozen cookies we just baked are too many to sync with our Fitness goals defined previously in one of our fitness posts Share them.  Wrap them up along with the recipe and deliver them to folks who live alone or those that have small children and working parents.

An example of sharing tips

Love to crochet, knit or sew? Let’s look at crocheting afghans.

  • There are only so many Afghans you can make in so many color combinations to go with your home’s interior.
  • Create a list of friends and families whose homes you’ve visited
  • Make some notes on their color combinations and make that a long term goal for your favorite everyday past time.
  • Once your yarn construction is finished you can visit them for a little chat and “spin a little more yarn.”  They will be thrilled and you feel great.
  • Still have Afghans left? Donate to the blanket drives for the homeless.
Share the warmth of friendship.

Gardening from seed requires patience but the product you receive is good quality and abundant. Cuttings from existing plants are also nice for sharing.  Repot those little treasures and share them with neighbors and friends along with a small card that describes the plant and the care needed.  Every time they tend their little gift, they will think of you and how you care for them.

Making a roast or a large casserole sometimes exceeds our personal needs.  Share the rest with those that have only themselves to cook for. Same goes for baking pies and cakes. It will be a wonderful change and so well received.  Or if you don’t cook or bake, exchange handy man jobs with friends for their cooking excesses.  Everyone gains and a little camaraderie is thrown in for good measure.

What about your beautiful singing voice?  Other than Christmas caroling, it’s a little harder to bust into song on someone’s front porch.  Sharing your singing talent may be better utilized in an organized singing group that goes from place to place.  You may be able to work in a few jokes while performing.

Sharing equals Win/Win

The act of sharing,  gifts both you and the receiver.  This too is a win-win situation.   Wouldn’t life be great if all our interactions worked out like that?

 Make a list, however short, of your special talents.  Then make a list of friends, neighbors and acquaintenances that you would like to gift. Follow through on the example above. They will be appreciative and you will feel happy for them.

Let that be your win-win goals.  Would you like some cookies?

Dixie

writers@richlyaged.com