Thomas Kamber – world shaker & shaper

John & I had the pleasure of meeting THOMAS KAMBER last Thursday at Senior Planet, which co-hosted a viewing of Ashton Applewhite’s “Manifesto Against Ageism” TED talk.  

My fingers had been crossed that Tom would be there & praise be he spoke, so I could tag voice & personality to the reputation.  What a thrill to share a few moments  with Tom, a genuine change agent, a  world shaker & shaper!

We only talked for a few minutes, but that was enough time for Tom to upgrade my vision of Cyber Access for the Technically Timid (CATT) as a serious template for inter-generational outreach.   As we talked, it hit home that for CATT to make a difference, I have to become a different version of ME, including setting goals light years beyond what I’d expected, doing things I’d never imagined.

Do I have the guts & grit to go for it?

Have added Tom to my roster of earth angels – he’s already done so much of what’s in my heart.    As for my guardian angels. they’re putting in overtime as they go into overdrive getting me off my duff & into the game:

O wonderous piper, with your message “GET  OVER  YOURSELF!”

Mrs. P –  I can feel my lower lip being pulled & hear your rebuke to DO what needs doing.

Hedy – shining proof to stay on the alert for knowledge inspiration opportunity, be true to my interests, always do my creative best – it could be an idea whose time will come.

And my first guardian angel, my brother Ian, is always whispering in his baby sister’s ear, ” Why NOT you?

 

Tom’s example is now always before me, since he’s interested in hearing from me WHEN there’s something worth sharing,  while my dear guardian angels haunt me with their messages of …

Just do it.  

Give it your all or give it all up.  

Go big or go home.  

If not you, who?  If not now, when?

 

GULP.

 

 

Older people are happier – guest post (sort of)

Am learning that posting something that zings straight to my heart is a pretty good way to pick a guest post.  The presenter didn’t write it FOR the blog, but it SPEAKS to me as if she did.

Which is how Laura Carstensen’s TED Talk became today’s Guest Post, featured way more for my younger readers than those older than newly old (65) me.  Older people have an inkling we’re happier than when in our younger years;  we don’t need convincing.  Youngers all too often do.

Yesterday, John & I got some photos developed at our local Walgreen’s.  I was guffawing because a special edition of TIME magazine on exercise claims on the cover – “Younger.  Smarter. Stronger.”   Exercise does many things.  It might make you feel fitter than you were before hitting the gym or starting a fitness routine.  It can make you smarter & it can make you stronger.  It CANNOT make you younger.  You’d think Father TIME would have set them straight!

Curious, I asked the cashier – a woman who looked to be in her middish middle age – if she would go back to being twenty for a million dollars.  Not would she pay a cool mil to return to those glory days;  would she accept it, on condition she return to her college years.  She mulled it over & said, “No.  I’d spend the money & still be stuck back there.”  “THERE” did not sound like a place she had any interest in revisiting, let alone staying.

Before going to Laura Carstensen’s excellent TED Talk, must include a nod to my mother’s take on significantly aging upward, written when she was 90:   A friend urged me to write about old age and make all the younger folks envious of us Ancients. Growing old, even some of the sadder aspects of it, is part of the Lord’s grand scheme. Let go of time-bound prejudices and fears of growing older.  ~  ~  Marianne Williamson says that to get to the light, a person has to work through the darkness. In middle and early old age, life can seem dark and scary as we move out of the familiar into the unknown. Work through it toward the light. “

And with that, I give you Laura Carstensen’s talk, given to a local audience at TEDxWomen 2011…  https://www.ted.com/talks/laura_carstensen_older_people_are_happier

Pam Grout – TED Talk Friday

Yes yes yes – I said today would showcase NANCY MURDOCH’s podcast, but it’s just SO unnecessary!  Her wondrous website links to it & to her blog & to many other terrific treats, including an online store featuring a  book for men on how to sexually please a woman** (did not see that coming!)

The only thing I’ll add about Nancy & her tremendous talents as a story-finding,confidence-boosting legacy builder is a link to a page with posts of personal tales posted by her devoted audio story e-course students – they make me laugh & smile & weep.

 

Onto today’s featured podcast, TED talk or blog – Which leads us to the amazing Pam Grout, who rocked my world almost 20 years about with her JUMPSTART YOUR METABOLISM.  If I had used the life-altering lessons learned in that book, I’d be far fitter & probably more mentally balanced.  But my gremlin sidetracked me & I am the sorrier for it.  But, HA!  Take THAT, you wretched gremlin!  I still have the book & have incorporated it into my miracle morning, positively productive day!

As I discovered yesterday/today around midnight, unwinding after our mad dash to & from DC to attend the Aging2.0 Pint-0, Pam is way more than someone who preaches & teaches the bonus points of breath work.  She is a force of energy – literally.

As described in her Amazon bio – – Pam Grout is a hopeless romantic who still believes the world is a beautiful place, that people are noble and that anything is possible.  ~  For a living (and she always wonders why people think that’s such an important question), she writes books and articles for such magazines as People, Cooking Light and Travel & Leisure. She also enjoys writing bedtime stories for her daughter, but that’s more about making a life than a living. She’s keenly aware there’s a huge difference.

Although I’ve known about Pam for close to twenty years, it was just in the wee-ist of this morning’s wee small hours that I first heard her talk about money, making the point that the best way for creatives to generate capital is through – TA DA!creative capital.  She sure did – just look at her Amazon bio.

Hearing Pam’s talk was spooky wonderful.  It would have had a far different impact if I’d listened yesterday morning, when I first found the 2015 presentation.  Funny – the reason I didn’t listen right off the bat was because I was only using it as bait to reel people into an intro to Pam.  And WHY did I take the 14+ minutes to listen, since I was one bushed baby after the long to & from drive to DC?  But that’s how it rolled out.

Which is awe-some.  I soaked it in while still fully vibed, my funding underwriting backing energies jumpcharged by a group of remarkable innovators & enterprise promoters, all seeking to positively affect the lives of elders & their loved ones.  Before THAT moment, was not ready to hear that the best person to financially back underwrite fund my creative efforts in evolutionizing elder care is…  Oh my gosh – ME!

Everyone on the face of the planet should listen to Pam’s TED talk.  Add it to your baby’s lullaby downloads.  It is all about the importance of creativity for ALL of us, being shaped in the image of the Divine, making us – by our divine nature – wildly & infinitely creative.

It is within us.  Within every one of us.

Pam is old enough to hark back 30+ years, back to when we were kids, young adults.  Back when the only people who seriously worked out were actual athletes or ones wanting super buff bodies.  Now, it seems that all my under 55 friends have a gym, 40+ year old gal pals of mine compete in extreme sport events, while Dads who at best got in a Saturday basketball game with buds go into training for running marathons with their kids.   All of my younger friends either include some fitness routine in their day or keep quiet that they are not.

Pam’s set out to spark a similar revolution with our IMAGINATION, exercising building toning our creative muscle.

Artists aren’t the only ones needing creativity – it’s an overlooked core need for ALL of us, right up there with food & shelter.

It’s easy to see hear feel the pinging energies buttress Pam’s beliefs.  Tempting as it is to say to mysef, “Of course SHE found ways to transform creativity into capital – look at everything she’s done. Pam is especially graced with creativity.”

Except I am graced with abundant creativity.  And so are you!  Pam helps us connect with those creative juices.  Pam is one of us, not set apart on a higher plane.  She doesn’t get all puffed up with her accomplishments or seek special status for herself.  Instead, she beckons us to come, too.  To help, she includes an easy-to-take creativity self-evaluation form (see below) & a series of creativity exercises to strengthen our creativity muscle.  NOTHING she suggests takes special equipment or education;  ALL stir bolster boost our creativity muscle.

For all the people who know me, who know that I’m already hopped up on the importance of creativity at every point along our life span, always remember this – I discovered something life-shifting important listening to Pam’s TED talk.  EVERYONE, even those already regarded as creative clever innovative, has something to gain from what Pam shares.

I believe that Pam’s TED talk shifted my world.  She opened the way.  How it plays out – we will see.  How does it touch you?  Let me know!

 

Pam Grout’s Test of Creativity

Instructions:

Answer the following question.

1. Are you breathing? (‘x’ the appropriate box)

Yes______ No______

 

**  Nancy’s description –  This is NOT a book of bedroom tricks.  It is a book of awareness, self-realization and love that leads to deep intimacy.

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“Magical Realism” & Aging Upward

What a great term – “magic realism,” a phrase used to described the critically & commercially successful author Isabel Allende’s writing.   It also describes what I believe about aging upward, what I saw my mother, other adults around me live every day.  Magical realism.

In fiction, magical realism is not escapist – it is engagement.   It takes us outside of the everyday experience to experience every day’s reality & our personal deeper truth.  It escorts us from where we are situated in the world to see our place in it.  Where science fiction  & fantasy often interweave the serious with escapism, magical realism is always serious, always striving to convey different experiences, perceptions, views that actually do exist, or existed at some point.  It is different from what we or our culture experiences as reality, so we can’t lump it under realism.

In the same way that Isabel uses magical realism in her writing, she brings it into her talk on living passionately, given at TED2014.  She shares stories about people who are living in our country, our world who experience LIFE in different ways, as a different reality.  The woman whose red patterned shoes announce on her feet the free spirited activist in her heart.  Sophia Loren looking the way she does at the age she is due to … spaghetti.  The old woman who saves young girls from parents selling them into slavery.  Different worlds, different experiences, different perspectives than what’s outside my door, yet they ARE real inside my head.  Magical realism.

In her stories, Isabel may interject a ghost, not to create a frisson of fear but to manifest a reality I believe but  been spooked into hiding or silence;  to show  a reality beyond anything I could experience, yet can feel through another’s eyes.

Isabel weaves just such a tale at TED, making the audience – and viewers – see her exotic world through our own eyes.  She takes the kid of twenty-five by the hand to show what being seventy-one can be, reminds the 90-year old of the richness of aging upward.

For too many years, the magical realism spun around aging was a horror story, burdened with limitation loss liability.  Isabel invites us into her life, to feel its passion, to experience it (including erotic fantasies) as if it is our own.  Then to weave our tale of magical realism, welcoming others to enter the story & help us celebrate the years!

 

The Play’s The Thing

Human beings need play the way they need vitamins.  ~ lionel tiger ~

Spend the day with a typical older person living in even one of the better “senior lifestyle residences” & notice if any semblance of spontaneous, unstructured PLAY is part of his or her experience.

Too often, not much, if any.

The greatest source of playful interaction & connection is typically mealtime, where – if she’s lucky (and the vast majority of residents are women) – she’s part of a regular circle of friends sharing lunch & laughs.  Alas, such “breakfast brigades” & “lunch bunches” are far from the norm & many of the ones that meet every day focus on aches pains problems rather than providing lively & expansive back & forth.  Even the best are haunted by the specter of alteration by debilitation & death.

Typically, the more high-end a senior residence, the more choices there are for playful interaction, from year ’round swimming to fair weather golfing, dancing & bridge & the performing arts (as participant or audience). But how many of residents actually take part in those activities?  And if they want to participate, who helps makes sure they get to & from them?  Personal care in even the best facilities can fall prey to being top quality maintenance rather than continual enrichment, however well-meaning & best-intentioned its goals.

Top of the scale, Ma!   Everyone on the face of the planet needs a steady diet of laughter-lobbing play, play that gets the energies flowing, the heart pitter pattering, that deepens old ties & forges new ones.

I think of a young family who swiped my heart this past spring when I helped with the youngest while their mother finished up her degree work at a local college.  Those children –  & parents & grandparents – breathe play into everything they do, bring a sense of adventure & the unknown into all aspects of their lives.

That family sits atop the high end of my playfulness scale.  Don’t look to me to describe the sorry folks of all ages who slide down the scale to the very end.  My True North purpose is to duplicate/modify best practices, then upgrade, even transform lives.  Think Galileo, Pasteur, the Wright brothers, Robert Goddard – each was considered a crackpot or kook & look at all they accomplished, the paths they opened that others have traveled.  Boys – move over & make room for me.

When I look at that wondrous play-filled family that scampered off with my heart, I see children & parents who know their boundaries, who have chores, who place expectations on each other.  They live work play within a creative structure.  How can we create a structure where older people could value & access more play?

Alas, when people think about play, they tend to limit it to children.  Back in February 2008, the NY Times Magazine’s ran a cover story on play – spinning off a presentation by Stuart Brown & Krista Tippett at the NY Public Library discussing its biological & spiritual roots.  But four months later, in a wildly popular TED talk, Stuart (I like to think of myself as friends awaiting an introduction) pointed out that the cover didn’t show a single adult at play, only children.  They’d missed the point of his work – that play is as needed in adulthood as it is when we are in our single digits, teens, twenties.  In my experience, it is as important as fresh air & good nutrition for a happy, healthy life.

Background – seventeen years ago, I expected that 2017 would find me easing out of my corporate career.  I had an exceptional run & quite a few professional accolades & honors, including 2000 Employee of the Year.  Then, in late summer/early autumn 2001, it became clear the Universe had WAY different plans for me.  But it wasn’t until I crossed paths with Anne Davis Hyatt that I got the first aha about my True North life purpose.

Kent, Anne’s best beloved, died after a stroke, in his late 80s.  She was suddenly solo.  And depressed.   Oh, and been recently diagnosed with dementia.

Anne’s family gathered together, discussed the situation, then checked out best next steps.  Their conclusion – infuse Mom with play activities, with a variety of play mates.  They brought me on for rambles & restaurant runs; Tamar to scoot Anne back to her beloved little hometown for visits with family & friends, pal up with her for weekly painting classes, play the piano & read aloud; and, always, Anne’s children were there for numerous regular weekly visits, after-church Sunday dinner & Sunday supper.

In the 7+ years Anne was our client, I don’t recall a single serious illness, nor a hospitalization.  The healthy dose of social interaction every day played out in a strong spirit housed in a declining body.  She was out & about doing things right up to the day she fell in her apartment.  This was a woman whose dementia had progressed to the point where she could not remember from moment to moment the day let alone the date, but no one – NO ONE – was more primed for the next great FUN moment.  Anne would frame the sunset with her hands, saying, “I don’t remember what they’re called (the sky, clouds, sun, trees & fields), but aren’t they BEAUTIFUL?!”  Imagine if she had been left, as the vast majority of seriously older people are, without an infusion of play into her day?

Play’s the thing!   For now, Anne – like my mother – would be considered an outlier.  Praise be, I have spent my life surrounded by older people whom others would consider similar fabuolous outliers!  My goal is to help turn that around so that the qualities that hallmarked their lives are considered the norm rather than a happy aberration.

Ten years ago, even 7+ years ago when I first started chumming around with Anne, that goal might have seemed unimaginable.  Today, it’s more & more can-do, with remarkable individuals groups organizations coalescing to turn around our current culture’s woeful attitudes around & expectations of aging upward.

It speaks volumes that next week’s International Association for Gerontology & Geriatrics (IAGG) World Congress will, for the first time (!), feature as one of its official venues, The Age Stage.  It’s HUGE, that such an august body recognizes the importance & power of creativity, a cornerstone of play, in aging upward.

The Age Stage is a physical reminder that “the play is the thing.”

Four years ago, I discovered that the National Center for Creative Aging is rooted in the findings of Gene Cohen, a “book mentor” of mine for many years who died far too young in 2009.  So much has changed since the years where Medicare allocated a laughable (not in a good way) $250 a year for mental health. Gene fought to get that increased, fought for oldsters elders ancients to be considered deserving of good mental health, whether a kid of 65 or a 95+ grey head.  Just as most people accept the various ages of life, Gene believed that older age has its own stages – reevaluation, liberation, summation & encore.

I will be thinking of those stages – and reveling at my liberation – throughout the IAGG World Congress, blessed to be who I am with the background I’ve gathered (or been gathered for me), at this age, in this era, at this time, in this place.

Next week, the IAGG will give space & time to showcase the importance of aging creatively.  Give me a little time & watch me win them over to giving play its due!