Beauty is not frivolous

Early this year, on the TED Talk Stage, the great creative, Renzo Piano, noted near the end of his presentation on architecture, “Beauty is not a frivolous idea.  It is the opposite”  Amen!

He went onto note how, in many languages including his own Italian, the word beautiful also means good. Many times, I’ve heard it used to describe a job well done, an exceptionally good effort, even a particularly tasty morsel.

The massively gifted architect talks about how the universal concept of BEAUTY can change the world.  A searching for desire & dreams.  I love how he talks about experiencing beauty, that it brings a special light to our eyes- – to our heart, to our being.

Beautiful architecture makes for better cities, which helps make for better citizens.  And savoring a universal sense of beauty CAN save the world, one person at a time.  But it has to BE there.

Think of places designed for “elder care” that have little beauty about them.  Beauty of place has little to do with prints on walls in the foyer & public places.  All too often, the beauty that existed when a continuous care residence first opened vanishes as demand drives expansion that disrupts the original carefully designed lines, gobbles up open spaces & woodlands, a beauty that is hard to achieve in the small apartment that replaced the family home.

How do we bring beauty into the lives of people confined to rooms & limited spaces, who are restricted by a crumbling body or mind from seeking beauty in nature & places beyond home or residence or facility?  Universal beauty WILL save the world & can save our lives, the lives of those we love & those in our care.  How does that look & feel?

Beauty is not a frivolous idea – it is quite the opposite.  What can we do to bring more beauty to those around us, to ourself?  How can we help make the lives of those in our loving orbit & tender care not only safe & secure, but bella?

 Related Link:

From zilch to ZOWIE!

Return with me to 2010, more or less the year it first fully hit that my life path had doubled back, taking me to one-on-one social enrichment work with olders elders ancients.

John & I discovered that the active, engaged, fun lives our mothers had experienced weren’t the norm for too many olders.  Mom M. was fully independent, except for the help John gave with heavy shopping, right up to her sudden death, at home, at 87.  My mother had her final fall hours before she was to throw a brunch down in Virginia for metro-D.C. based friends & family; five weeks later, as she was being discharged from a suburban-Philadelphia hospital for home & hospice, her doctor begged me to take one of the other patients, to leave Mom – “I know that if I’m feeling down, a visit to your mother’s room will leave me smiling.”  Oh, and she spent that last week answering e-mails from a local college’s Psych 101 students.

That was 09/2001.  Over the next 15+ years, John & I slowly discovered – to our great surprise – a gift for helping people be as fully themselves, whatever their situation or circumstance.  The challenge was finding information on helping olders connect to their creative cores.  There was LOTS of info on day-to-day functions, on diseases & cognitive impairments, on PROBLEMS associated with aging up through our 70s 80s 90s, but ZILCH on ways to support people without age-related conditions to STAY that way.

Determined to learn more, I looked to child-focused research, articles, book, because they sort of seemed somewhat close to what we sought.  And I was right!  Lots of material on engaging, connecting & growing relationship that related to both youngsters & oldies but goodies.

Over the years between our awakening  & today’s relative bonanza of books (think This Chair Rocks, Disrupt AgingEnding Ageism, or how not to shoot old people), I read countless unrelated books that somehow related directly to our goal of assuring older friends that they’re built to keep engaged energized empowered to their precious last breath, that they’ve sold themselves down the river with the myth that life after a certain age is destined by The Fates to be, at best, chronically tinged with soft lens depression.  The energies that lead me to them would lead me to The National Center for Creative Aging, to George Mason University’s Leading to Well-Being Conferences, to Positive Aging, to the IAGG World Congress – – to myself &  my full calling.

Business books were surprisingly helpful.  A lot about nurturing – in spite of perceived barriers – teams hit home.  I remember listening to some guy named Chip Conley give a TED Talk on a business model he’d developed using Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  Having taught Maslow for five years to at-risk high school students – – who gave “needs” a whole new meaning to me – – it caught my eye & fired my imagination.

Some six years after hearing that TED Talk, am set a-shiver with chills & thrills – with thanks to Kari Henley – to hear that the very same Chip Conley is bringing karmic capitalism to sharp & savvy eldering in the guise of the Modern Elder.

Circle SEPTEMBER 18 on the calendar of everyone even remotely interested in living as vibrantly expansively wondrously as possible – – the date Wisdom@Work is being released!

From 2010 to 2018 – – how far attitudes about growing “O-L-D” have come, from “seniors” to seriously AWEsome.

Would say “Let the wonders begin!” – – but they already have!

From zilch to ZOWIE – and John  & I are right there, immersed in a movement no longer on the cusp but moving full throttle to fabulous.

COLLABORATION – following the call of the wild

Took me 65 years to fully GET my predisposition to working in collaboration with others, that I work best in a small group setting.  My problem is that so much in my first 50 years goes wildly against it.

Throughout their lives, Mom & Dad played well with others, so it would be natural to think I’d get the message.  But from birth – middle age, the core messages I got were from my way more influential older sibs;  #1 was that connection was for suckers, that collaboration leads to soul-deadening “group think” & a stultifying “herd” mentality.

It’s STILL a struggle for me to know which personal mechanics lead TO connection, which lead AWAY.  When so many messed up things were presented & modeled as normal, it’s hard to get a handle on which ones do & which ones don’t.  A lot of people aren’t raised in family cultures that nurture connection;  count me among the unfortunates who, without realizing, went even further down the wrong road, were taught techniques that kept me separate unique alone – and distainful of anything more.

Here I am, at 65+, doing my best to get a crash course in collaboration as THE source of human power!

First, striving to get my mind heart spirit on the same page.  The head catches on – no problem.  But the heart was steeped for years in contempt for anything that might remotely resemble group collaboration – brushed off as a “herd mentality” that was to be shunned rather than nurtured.  And if heart doesn’t get it, spirit will never buy in.

Am determined to get them in sync, but it’s HARD & I was raised in a family culture that aimed for comfort over challenge, process over product.  Instead of buckling down, I’ve injected a sense of PLAY.  Look at the problem as a TASK or even a challenge?  No how, ho way!  Am embracing pursuing collaboration skills as an adventure.  How far up that once haze-hidden peak can I get over my remaining years?  What are the tools & skills I need to learn the ins & outs & ’round abouts of connecting & collaborating?  Find them, master them, APPLY them.  Let those dynamics be simple, easy & fun to master!

Collaboration leads to POWer  – I hear & follow its call!



Anne Bastings – imagination over memory

One of my greatest WOW! moments last year happened at the National Center for Creative Aging Conference & Leadership Exchange, when I was seated next to ANNE BASTING, someone I’ve personally known (thanks to NCCA!) for three years, when Jennie Smith-Peers announced to an ecstatic throng that Anne had just been announced as a MacArthur Fellow, recognizing honoring nurturing her work developing TIMESLIPS.

My gosh – what were the odds that announcement could be MADE at the conference ~or~ that I’d have just been catching up with Anne on what was happening in our lives?!

Anne is amazing.  I originally met her at my 1st (and THE 1st) NCCA Conference in 2014, where she opened my eyes to the wisdom of  connecting with oldsters elders ancients through their unbounded imagination rather than the often dispiriting attempts to dredge up hard-to-recall memories.  I recall, at both the 2015 & 2016 conferences, the rush of joy that swept through me on my first glimpse of Anne.

In this month of gratitude, how wondrous to listen to Anne, to feel blessed to have even a teeny tiny connection to her, to have growing connections with the incredible spirits of NCCA, of Positive Aging, of Leading to Well-Being, of the International Association of Gerontology & Geriatrics , of the Radical Aging Movement, of Aging 2.0.

Think global, act local!  My personal goal is to share Anne’s TED Talk with the remarkable people in my little hometown who make a huge difference in the lives of the people with whom they care partner, both older friends & youngers who need a little or a lot of support.  Imagining a circle of families friends professionals tapping into limitless imagination rather than time-stamped memories.  It’s been three years already – get going, girl!

Anne Basting – a master of creating moments of joy, of transforming others into masters.  An inspiration & butt kicker.


Randy Pausch – best talk EVER

This – the best talk of ALL time – counts as a Thursday TED Talk because it really IS listed on the TED page!  Randy Pausch showed all of us how to move forward with a heartbreaking diagnosis.

Oh, by the way NY Times – –  Randy’s lecture, given ten years ago did NOT make him a “Lou-Gehrig-like symbol of the beauty and briefness of life.”  He was, is, will always be quintessentially completely utterly Randolph Frederick Pausch.

Randy died in 2008, having lived 5 months longer than his doctors’ most optimistic expectations.