The glories of cupcaking!

No posting yesterday – was caught up in the glorious fun of cupcaking at a church picnic!

Okay, the picnic was inside – the great outdoors was soaked through & through with what’s come to feel like Biblical rains – but the good times were rolling in spite of the being indoors.

My heart soul mind totally fluffs when cupcaking with all ages, but with kids – bliss!  And three of the youngsters knew how to handle an icing bag, which left me in amazement.

Still on the best sort of high, the sort that comes from a combination of youthful spirits, lots of creativity & a bounty of happy smiles.

After 18 months away from cupcaking, yesterday was the second time in about a week when the joy of connecting creatively with kids – and seeing the pride on their parents’ faces – was active in my life.  O be joyful!

 

Charles Krauthammer embodies full-throttle living

Would that we all showed Charles Krauthammer’s determination to live every moment as a gift, in spite (because?) of physical challenges!  No matter what your ideological stripe, he personifies embracing life, living expansively no matter what the circumstance, situation.  A life well lived.

His letter in today’s Washington Post is both a shock & a salve for his devotees & for anyone who admires the human spirit writ large.

 

I have been uncharacteristically silent these past ten months. I had thought that silence would soon be coming to an end, but I’m afraid I must tell you now that fate has decided on a different course for me.

In August of last year, I underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in my abdomen. That operation was thought to have been a success, but it caused a cascade of secondary complications — which I have been fighting in hospital ever since. It was a long and hard fight with many setbacks, but I was steadily, if slowly, overcoming each obstacle along the way and gradually making my way back to health.

However, recent tests have revealed that the cancer has returned. There was no sign of it as recently as a month ago, which means it is aggressive and spreading rapidly. My doctors tell me their best estimate is that I have only a few weeks left to live. This is the final verdict. My fight is over.

I wish to thank my doctors and caregivers, whose efforts have been magnificent. My dear friends, who have given me a lifetime of memories and whose support has sustained me through these difficult months. And all of my partners at The Washington Post, Fox News, and Crown Publishing.

Lastly, I thank my colleagues, my readers, and my viewers, who have made my career possible and given consequence to my life’s work. I believe that the pursuit of truth and right ideas through honest debate and rigorous argument is a noble undertaking. I am grateful to have played a small role in the conversations that have helped guide this extraordinary nation’s destiny.

I leave this life with no regrets. It was a wonderful life — full and complete with the great loves and great endeavors that make it worth living. I am sad to leave, but I leave with the knowledge that I lived the life that I intended.

Death is a wild night & a new road.

discovering old notes

In clearing out paperwork from an unexplored file cabinet, came across notes taken a few years back.  No mention of the book they reference, but several of them hit me between the eyes, so will share a few anyhow:

Making a success of living requires resilience, courage & awareness of the blessings that surround us.  At any age.

~  Our most shattering experiences often turn into incredibly rich soil for opportunities & growth.

I believe in personal evolution rather than reinvention.

Our wisdom grows deeper the more easily it is accessed by appreciative others.

A keener perspective, trusted guides & a commitment to core practices sustained & strengthened my mother over all her years.

~  By never fearing an unknowable future, Mom was always open to the joy of each moment.

Suicide & “seniors”

Researching yesterday’s post on the shocking rise of suicides across the USA, was stunned that the National Institute of Mental Health’s (NIMH) recent report on the rising rate of suicide in the USA didn’t include an age range older than 55-64.  Still astonished.  And horrified.

A smattering of articles discussing the rise of suicide among “seniors” (especially men):

How Do We Stop The Elderly Suicide Epidemic?

Suicide Prevention Resource Center

Preventing Suicide Among Seniors 

Elderly Suicide:  a needless tragedy  

Suicide Rates In The Elderly (worldwide) 

Suicide & the Elderly  

How to Help Suicidal Men  & Women 

SUICIDE PREVENTION HOTLINE  1-800-273-8255

 

 

Kate Spade’s death spotlights dangerous trend

Designer Kate Spade’s death earlier this week highlights a shocking trend across the USA – a Center for Disease Control (CDC) report datelined tomorrow shows half of all states have seen their suicide rate increase by more than 30% over less than twenty years.  Only six states did not see a significant increase over the period 1999-2016.  According to a May 2018 report from the National Institute for Mental Health (NIHM), suicide ranks as the #2 cause of death for Americans 10 – 34 years old, #3 for those age 35-54 &  #8 for ages 55-64.

What could account for an extreme spike in suicide rates in such a relatively short time?  Kate Spade’s death was less of a shock when I learned that she was apparently chronically depressed -and- her husband had recently moved out of their apartment & reportedly asked for a divorce.  But 54% of all suicides turn out to be people without a previous history of mental illness.  Other reported mega risk factors include relationship problems, substance abuse, health problems & physical debility,  job problems & financial difficulties, or sudden, even anticipated crises.

Here I go, jumping into the debate with my own two cents.

 Isolation is considered at epidemic levels in the USA.  Fewer & fewer people have close friends with whom to open up with problems.   Neighbors are less likely to develop friendships than a generation ago, when fast friendships formed chatting over backyard fences or serving on PTA committees, at water coolers at a long-term job & bowling leagues.

Our culture is increasingly uncivil & intensely divisive.

Young people are tagged as “snowflakes” – less resilient than earlier generations, more likely to avoid emotional issues, disagreements & discussions presenting different points of view.  And while it’s true the suicide rate for white children & teens, 10-17, went up 70% between 2006 & 2016, it feels like they’re getting a bum rap, because I see that tendency to cocoon from dissent ranging across all ages.

I look forward to reading practical articles based on the current CDC report.  The reported jaw-dropping spike in suicides is, sadly, hardly unexpected.  For decades, we’ve seen loss after loss – – of community, of stable family connection, of deep friendships & strong marriages, of access to elder wisdom & youthful energies – – of the very things that helped keep us anchored over the millennia.

Are the increase in suicides connected in some way to the rise in meanness across America, in divisiveness & demonizing?  Is it simplistic to say we need to restore kindness & courtesy, civility & a willingness to respect others?  To stop doing the things that have been proven to harm us & start doing ones that help & nurture?

How do we reduce the spike in suicides?  Return to a human nature that valued people more than machines, that sought for common ground & considered politeness a virtue.

I’ve no doubt that Kate Spade’s death & the CDC’s report on the rise of suicide will result in much-needed discussion around the shocking spike.  But will it bring any change?  I, for one, am not going to sit around, waiting to see.  I have a thing or two to say on the topic of turning around our increasingly toxic culture & I aim to say ’em!

 

If you or someone you know needs someone to talk to, the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline ~  1-800-273-TALK (8255) ~ is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to anyone. All calls are confidential. http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org 

 

 

Sweet haunting

Reading John Leland’s Happiness is a Choice You Make has me feeling Mom’s presence.  Based on his year-long series of New York Times‘ articles on a year among the oldest of NYC’s old, the stories John shares hit close to home, ditto the lessons he was surprised to learn by being with them.

Resiliency, kindness, generosity.

Making the most of the moment.

Full-throttle living, in their own way.

Wish everyone could read the articles, which I enjoyed immensely, savor the book & perhaps feel the nodding presence of a beloved older!