Every now and then, if we are lucky, we find an author whose words seem to speak directly to us in ways we wish we had said ourselves. That’s how I felt when I first found a book written by Palmer Parker over two decades ago. So, when I learned that his latest book touched on aging, I didn’t hesitate to send him a Facebook private message asking if he provided review copies. Not only did he respond personally by email (because that’s the kind of man he is), he sent me an autographed copy hot off the press. His new book, On The Brink of Everything—Grace, Gravity & Getting Old is a collection of essays that covers aging well along with other topics facing the world today. For all of us who appreciate a wise, authentic and often transcendent voice about issues that matter, it is my deep pleasure to introduce you to Parker Palmer. [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…]
I think most of us are aware that confirmation bias is a guiding force in our lives. You know what I mean, right? Research shows that we are all biased and constantly looking for evidence that reinforces our most deeply established beliefs. So, it should come as no surprise to you (any more than it did to me) when I discovered in a current book that dharma and rightsizing share a lot in common. So, if you’re a fan like me, then consider the following five ways I think that if you are on the rightsizing path, you are likely close to living your dharma. Also feel free to let me know if you believe my bias has led me astray. [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.
One thing that seems to help people when faced with grief, illness or a hardship of any kind is to discover others who have faced and overcome their challenges. That doesn’t deny the difficulty, but it does remind us that we are not alone and all of us are dealing with things at one time or another. And in spite of Social Media, most of those trials are invisible to anyone but ourselves. It confirms, at least to me, that if other people can meet and graciously overcome their difficulties, then the possibility exists for me as well. As it turned out, this month’s Book Club selection, On My Own Two Feet by Amy Purdy was exactly what I needed at this time. Surely if someone like Amy Purdy can overcome her challenges, there is hope for all of us, no matter what we are facing.
One of the best things about joining a book club is the fact that you are introduced to titles that you normally wouldn’t choose for yourself. Last month my nonfiction group picked Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking—or How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Let People Help. Not only is it an entertaining and easy read, it is also filled with thoughts and ideas about honesty, feelings of adequacy, being a writer and other acts of creation, trusting ourselves, accepting love, getting paid for our art, and the power of social media. Going far beyond the difference between asking and begging, Palmer’s book is a manifesto on ways to look at the world from a position of connection and wholeness. It is stuffed with plenty of meaty ideas for a two-hour book club as well as a blog post or two. [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…]
As a child, I was conditioned to keep my mouth shut if I wanted to be seen as a good girl. I picked up early that arguing was pointless, and that only bitchy girls insisted on being heard. I did my best to fit in and keep others around me comfortable and happy. It seemed logical to maintain the peace rather than escalate any problem. Besides, the affection and positive attention I received by being a good girl made the choice easier. From teenage on, I perfected my sunny attitude using smoking as a pacifier to entertain myself while staying silent. Unfortunately, when I stopped smoking in my early-thirties, my reliable smoke screen disappeared. Thankfully, through the many years that followed, I’ve gradually grown strong enough to speak my mind when necessary. [Read more…]
Happiness research by Harvard professor Daniel Gilbert teaches that most of us aren’t good at predicting how happy we will be in the future. Not only are our predictions based upon current feelings and events, they also flow out of our previous experiences—none of which necessarily explains what will happen, or how we will feel, far into the future. Instead, Gilbert recommends that we study and learn from those who are living the experience we say we want to mimic. Could it be that only the oldest of old living today can offer us clues about living a very long and happy life? That’s exactly what John Leland suggests in his new book, Happiness is a Choice You Make: Lessons from a year among the oldest old. For those of us who see a very long life as a gift we want to embrace, this book is a window into the wisdom of several elders with a great deal to teach.
A few weeks ago, Thom and I attended a Sunday brunch hosted by a longtime friend. Both Joanne and her husband are in their seventies. Yet, you’d never guess their age by their bright and curious minds. Nearly all their guests were as old or older, but again, everyone was curious, open-minded and talkative. At some point, the conversation touched on how, as many grow older, most seem to shrink back as the years add up. Instead of trying new things and being willing to experiment and explore, there is a strong tendency for seniors to resist the unfamiliar. Many seek safety and comfort rather than possibility and opportunity. Of course, this isn’t just limited to seniors. Lots of people seem stuck these days. So once again it was highly synchronistic when I received a review copy of a book that challenges that outlook, regardless of our age. [Read more…]