Phoenixville – intergen hot spot!

I’ve been familiar with Phoenixville for all of my 66 years – my cabinet designer father had a vendor in the area & a back woods run over to Chester County was always fun.  Knew Phoenixville in its heyday, saw it hit the skids.  Still mourn the loss of the Del Rio Diner.  But the town that was in a downward spiral now models how a small city can become a welcoming magnet for both millennials & empty nesters.  Way to go!

Am blessed to have a friend who technically lives in Phoenixville, although her house is way out in the countryside.  Just got an e-mail from her yesterday – before today’s article about its enticements ran in the Philadelphia Inquirer – suggesting an autumn connect at one of her town’s great little lunch spots.

An excellent read to learn about how a struggling town figured out how to leverage its key location (and angling to get its railroad line restored) into a hot spot for all ages to live, shop, connect.

Way to go, Phoenixville!

The challenge of aging

I yelped with joy, reading Connie Goldman‘s sense of what we’re, each & everyone,  called to do  ~ ~ “The challenge of aging isn’t to stay young;  it’s not only to grow old, but to grow whole – to come into your own.

That is a great quote because it is as true when we are twenty as when we’re inching up to ninety.  ALL of our life is about being all thoroughly all that we are as possible, whatever our situation or circumstances.

What too often blocks our way is having our aging ever upward woven into a cultural fabric that seems to disengage from grasping the importance & power of true elderhood, that puts barriers in the way of continued growth – in the name of convenience.

Life was never meant to be convenient.  It’s SUPPOSED to be challenging & messy, enriching & inconvenient, expansive & exasperating.  From first breath to last.

Older people need advocates, people who help brush aside physical, emotional, even mental barriers.  Every step these essentials take, every action, helps them grow whole, helps them come more fully into their own.

The life they enrich, that they help give the space to grow whole, may be their own!

 

 

July 4th’s unexpected illuminations

Yesterday was illuminating in ways I never expected.

Friends had us over for an evening bbq – their property boasts a great view of the local rockets’ glorious glare.  John was the elder of the group, at 72, with the rest of us all 60-something.  Two of them were discussing whether or not to take a particular medication, with their focus apparently on whether it would be as beneficial for warding off dementia as they’d heard.

Curious, I asked about why, in their 60s, they were already so focused on the possibility of dementia.  “We don’t want to be a burden on our children.”

That left me jaw-dropped in surprise.

They’re not even into their seventies & already worrying about being a drain on their family, wanted to take proper precautions against heart disease, which ran in both their families.  (I had a hard time not saying, “Well, for starters, you can have something more heart-friendly than grilled steak with a side of potatoes but no other veggies,” but held my tongue.)

It brought to mind another dear friend, a school mate, who also fretted a few weeks back about being a bother to their children.  She explained – “Parents love their children more than children love their parents.”  Like the other friends, this was a mother who had raised terrific kids who loved her to pieces.  She, like them, is afraid of needing their support in the future.  Am beginning to wonder if this fear is typical of the sixties or mere coincidence.

This is an area where John &  I are clueless about parental fears.  We weren’t blessed to have children – God apparently had different plans for us.  It’s left me floundering to understand otherwise sane & reasonable people driven to attend to wants rather than needs, who apparently pandered to an adult child’s longtime weakness rather than showing tough love.

That’s just one of many aspects of parenting that’s forever outside our ken.  But this whole thing of “I don’t want to be a burden on my children” from a contemporary of mine still has my brain reeling.

These are women who hold dear to their hearts the Ten Commandments.  Yes, children don’t have the same natural love of their parents as their parents have for them.  Most people seem to understand that only the rarest of rare parents don’t feel a deep personal connection to their offspring, a driving desire to protect them, sometimes at all costs.  For parents, that desire to support seems implanted from the earliest moments, a bond that seems especially strong with mothers.  For children, there is an admonition from God – and a promise.

Honor your father & your mother, that YOUR days may be long (that you may prosper).”

All three women rolled their eyes & made it clear they think that it’s an issue I can never understand because I never had my own.  But maybe it’s the other way around.

Perhaps they’re blinded by an all-encompassing love that feels – at least in their case – let down by the fact the children don’t have the same love of Mom & Dad.  But we are told that, in spite of that,  they are MEANT to be there for their parents, even when it is a huge bother & even intense inconvenience.

The most brilliant illumination last night lit up my inner understanding.

Over the past week, I’ve pondered WHERE to focus my experience, insights, energies.  My friends’ worries seem to paint a great big arrow pointing in the direction of right where my thoughts have been lingering of late – – on helping everyone embrace aging, from first breath to last, as a natural & naturally glorious evolution, with every moment filled with horn-to-hoof awareness that, whatever our circumstance or situation, what is happening, even if it seems to totally stink, is what is meant to be.

That might sound simplistic.  It is.  Oh, life isn’t easy.  AND it is meant to be lived.  Take precautions.  Use medications wisely, without forgetting the basics of core good health practices like a wise diet to reduce known risks.  And don’t fret.  “Consider the lilies of the field….”

Am I unrealistically upbeat?  I think not.  I was there for my parents, especially my mother, when they needed support.  It was often wrenching at times with Mom, looked to my friends like I wasn’t looking out for myself.  But, ultimately, both Mom & I filled our parent/child roles; in her last few years, the two of us consciously came to our situation with love & a right attitude that acknowledged that when server & servee approach their situation from love honor respect those roles drop away & all that was left was service.

Last night, John & I went to our friends’ house looking forward to an evening sparkling with good friends, great food & awesome fireworks.  I arrived home with a mind illuminated beyond my wildest imaginings.  I’m meant to be a rocket of hope for people fearing what’s meant to be fabulous, even when it’s fiercely challenging.  To dissipate dark foreboding with the illumination of WOW!

 

Chip Conley’s “mutual mentoring” sets my heart aflutter

Even as I put out a welcome mat to Chip Conley, who promises to be a core disruptor of our current woeful culture around aging, felt a tad cautious that his Modern Elder Academy  would “boutique” the challenges & opportunities of bridging from middle age into older adulthood.  Optimism was tempered by caution.

So I dug & delved.  And became a true believe.

I love what is promised in Wisdom@Work, the making of a modern elder.  Am totally in synch with his view of olders feeling invisible by today’s youth-focused work place,  devalued & openly threatened by a forces that put us on the outside.  Chip believes the day of being redeemed & restored is at hand, that corporate power brokers recognize the folly of dismissing – figuratively & literally – crucial core sources of the humility, emotional intelligence & (gasp!) wisdom it once found woefully archaic.

Dear to my heart is his dedication to  intergenerational mentoring – both ways, with olders as both teacher & student, master & novice.  Amen & hallelujah!

For all to succeed, youngers have to open up to NOT knowing everything on the face of the Earth & olders have to open up to learning something whiz bang different than what made them successful in earlier careers.  Cross training that’s intergenerational outreach.  Gotta love it.

Over-the-moon with his term “curious learner” – – such a need on all sides for that quality.

Reading the various interviews, listening to Chip speak, am struck with how we all need to revamp expectations of mentoring, of what passes as crucial within a business model, what defines success & what’s needed to achieve it.  Take it deeper, richer, MORE.

His comments about how thirsty young professionals are for tutoring from old hands brought to mind The Intern, a film that was basically panned but which I found pretty spot on.  The 20- & early 30-somethings were hungry for what they considered the cool vibe wisdom for an old codger, who went from relic to revered.  And he got as much as he gave.

When Chip says olders have to repackage themselves – bring it on!  I’ve seen people embrace that challenge, rise to the occasion & ace the new opportunities around them, or brush it off & sink.  It’s not reinventing as much as furthering a remarkable evolution, one that reaches out in directions I never considered.

Let’s see – Chip gets involved at a incredibly young age developing successful boutique hotels, gets burned out as he approaches his fifties, sells them off at the bottom of the market, is recruited by Airbnb to lend his depth of experience to their successful but young, on all counts, business model, which he does & discovers his impression it’s a growth-minded model – leadership was as open to learning as they were to leading.

(Chip cracks me up when he notes, “Carol Dweck wrote a book Mindset long ago” – – it was published in 2007!  Eleven years is apparently an eon to him!)

How Chip describes Airbnb’s three leaders – freely admitting there’s a lot they don’t know & willing, eager to be life-long learners – describes the quality I’ve found in folks who age with enthusiasm & joy.  They are okay with not knowing everything & curious about what’s around the corner.

Still, it was his talk of “mutual mentorship” that set my heart racing.  The angels sang, trumpets sounded!

What was his example of mutual mentoring?  Airbnb connected with its most prolific users, which turned out NOT to be a pair of millennials but a 72 & 62-year old husband & wife traveling the world, staying solely at Airbnbs home.  The company promptly invited the elders in for a 10-week “senior internship program”!

And voila – Chip was taken even deeper into the importance & impact of intergenerational connections.   Deeper into the awareness of what has become Wisdom@Work & the Modern Elder Academy.

I was nervous, reading about the Modern Elder Academy.  Seemed more like a cool two weeks hanging out in a gorgeous place with beautiful people who are hardly in dire straits if they can afford the experience.  But instead of popping off, I kicked back & did my research & discovered that Chip tied his newest interest with a core strength.

This posting didn’t turn out at all how I expected when I started writing.  I was horrified that such important insights would be offered in such an exclusive setting.  It ended with me being mega impressed with the workings of Chip’s mind & its interaction with his heart, with being blown away with him tying it back to his early experience with hotels & his clear love of hospitality.

Which brings me back to mutual mentorship, which connects in my mind with Chip’s core sense of hospitality – he wants olders to feel welcome in the younger world & for them to welcome youngers to theirs.  Intergeneration symbiosis.  Deep chills & keen anticipation!

In which Joan Borysenko joins the team

I’ve admired JOAN BORYSENKO for eons, since reading A Woman’s Book of Life after a 09/2001 perfect storm of upheavals stripped me of long-time core expectations, turned foundational assumptions to rubble.

The PlantPlus Diet Solution has been tucked away on a den bookshelf for 3+ years.  Apparently read a few pages before the Universe realized, “Not YET!  She’s not ready to process this!  She still has work to do!

Here I am, two days into July 2018, post-processing The Greatest Salesman in the World,  (just reading it properly takes a YEAR), post-Die Empty & Playing Big, You Are A Badass, The Right Kind of Crazy  & anything by Brene Brown.  FINALLY, the Universe considers me ready for the Big Time, kicking in my Analog Summer & connecting me with the great Joan’s book on… dieting?

Right person, right approach, right info, right reader.  When the student is ready…  July 14 will find me starting a Reboot Month, which will be… interesting.  At 66, am old enough to PAY ATTENTION.  And – thanks to the personal growth program customized for me by a wise & tough Universe – reading to take big plunges with integrity & determination.

Joan ~ welcome to the team!   Looking forward to your energies disquieting the status quo, connecting me (and a delighted John) to a true-to-my-true-self wise ways!