On a clear day the sun always casts a shadow. In fact, the brighter the light, the more vivid the corresponding silhouette. That is why any complete discussion about positive aging requires the acknowledgment that a dark side exists. And while I am certainly not a professional who understands all the implications, I do think it is important to explore how it may affect us as we age. That’s because no matter how optimistic we remain about aging, none of us knows for sure what our complete future holds. And, like with all shadow work, it’s SMART to accept its existence as well as how it can potentially affect our lives if we want to experience the days to come as an authentic and whole individual.
Last night my husband Thom and I watched a television show called Billions. It followed a few previous nail-biting episodes where the main characters, Axe, Chuck, and his wife Wendy, stood on what appeared to be an inescapable precipice of disaster. Then, through an unexpected twist, they all managed to escape jail time and return to their former wealth and status with little or no repercussion. While we’d all like that kind of break in our own lives, especially when it comes to our finances, we usually aren’t as lucky. Even more interesting, at least to me, was that after triumphantly returning to his billion-dollar hedge-fund business, Axe looks at Wendy, his financial performance counselor, and says something like, “I thought the high would last longer than it did.” Don’t we all? When it comes down to it, many of the messages we think we know about money don’t pan out. And while I’m certainly no expert, here are a few truths about money that I wish I had known when I was young.
Since turning 60 a couple of years ago, my interest in aging well and happy has ramped up considerably. For the longest time, I claimed that I was middle-aged and for some ridiculous reason felt that I would stay at that stage of life for decades to come. But something in me switched at 60 and the midlife label no longer felt true. The problem was, calling myself a senior or old person didn’t fit either. Since then I’ve been thinking, talking and writing about the process of aging from all sorts of angles. Surprisingly, something that is becoming more and more clear to me is that most of us hold a lot of bogus ideas about what aging means. And while I’m not usually one to use profanity, the term B.S. applies to a number of those erroneously held beliefs. [Read more…]
As some of you know, my husband Thom and I are at the beach enjoying the summer weather. Because we mainly work-out-of-the-house, as long as we have good wifi and a phone we can work from just about any location. The thing is, it’s the beach! Between morning walks by the water, the lure of my bicycle, a pile of books waiting to be read, and being in a location with so much to do and see, I’m finding it difficult to motivate myself—especially towards anything that feels like work. Ironically, I have been planning my next book for the last several months and want (should) be making progress. But with a tentative title of, You Get To Make It Up I am reminded that when it comes down to it, and in spite of most circumstances, we really do get to make it up as we go along.
Last week I was chatting online with a friend named Barbara who just finished reading my book Positive Aging. She was very complimentary so naturally, I asked her if she would please do a review on Amazon as a way to help the book get more exposure. Of course, as usual, I explained that I really wanted her honest feelings, not just compliments. That’s when she admitted that the only question she had was whether positive aging was possible if a person had money problems. That made me stop and think it through myself. Does positive aging require money? No doubt it might make things easier. But in the end, just like with happiness, money can help but it is never a guarantee of either result. With that in mind, I thought it would be useful to explore a few things that can either help or hinder a path to positive aging. [Read more…]
Some of the most encouraging information I’ve found since I began writing about aging is that much of what we’ve assumed isn’t necessarily true. I confess that when I was younger I thought old people were “over the hill” as far as reaping the benefits of life. Even if they looked like they were doing well, surely the reality was far less superior than my youth? I was wrong. While there are advantages to being young, there is an equal number of benefits to getting older. I’m not suggesting that everything is perfect—at either age—but making the right choices and with the right guidance, many potential problems can be avoided and rewards enjoyed. What is true, with even as something as frightening as the potential for Alzheimer’s or dementia, is that there are lifestyle choices that you and I can make today that can help to reduce the risk. So instead of pretending or denying that such a possibility exists for many of us, isn’t it SMART to study up on current research that offers the most hopeful perspective? I sure think so! [Read more…]
My husband Thom grew up in a very religious household. A questioner by nature, he struggled to grasp what he was told without constantly asking for evidence. But one thing he heard stood out as absolutely true. Without a doubt, he knew deep in his heart and soul that the most prized possession on Earth, more precious than gold or jewels, had to be wisdom. The certainty of that awareness never wavered. As it turns out, new research appears to confirm that obtaining wisdom just might be central to what leads to a happy and healthy long life—in other words, a key to positive aging. And it’s likely that treasure is something all of us would like to experience in the years to come.
I’m no stranger to Mexico. My husband Thom and I have visited the country dozens of times throughout the years. But one thing we’ve never done is driven the Baja Peninsula. Every now and then I’d find an article or book describing the many interesting sights and towns we could find the further south we traveled. So, after several decades of hints, Thom happened to read something earlier this year about the Sea of Cortez and specifically about a town named Loreto. With that motivation, I finally convinced him that now was the time. Of course, as with all travel, the journey got more complicated the closer it came to our departure date. And now that we’ve gone and returned, I’m reminded that all travel, like life itself, is a series of adventures, trust, and even a few potholes. [Read more…]
This week SMART Living 365 is pleased to introduce you to Donna from Retirement Reflections as guest blogger while I am traveling. I have been reading Donna’s blog for nearly two years and believe she offers ideas that are inspiring, practical and SMART regardless of whether you are retired or not. Thank you, Donna, for filling in and sharing your thoughts with us this week.
When cleaning out a box of old letters and memorabilia recently, I came across a few of my old school report cards. I smiled at the recurring comment, “Donna spends much time chatting with others.” This behavior was definitely in the “things that could be improved” category. What my teachers failed to add was “If Donna continues this behaviour…it could lengthen her life!”
Researchers at Brigham Young University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill combined data from 148 studies that looked at factors that lengthen our lives. Within this research, numerous lifestyle behaviors were examined and ranked based on their impact on longevity (diet, exercise, heart health, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, doctor visits, flu vaccines, air quality, etc.). Two factors were consistently found to impact health and longevity much more significantly than previously realized. One was close, dependable relationships with friends and family. The other was social integration. [Read more…]
As you may have guessed, I am always on the lookout for ways to stay happy and healthy. At 62 I’m also increasingly interested in any new information that shares innovative research and actions for those of us who want to continue living that way in the years to come. So, when I heard about a new book called The Longevity List—Myth Busting The Top Ways to Live A Long & Healthy Life I immediately requested a review copy. Authored by Professor Merlin Thomas from Melbourne, Australia, this book both confirms what many of us have learned through the years and shares new insights about what it takes to stay healthy. Regardless of your age today, anyone who plans to live as long as possible would be SMART to consider his ideas. [Read more…]