3rd Act Magazine – Summer 2023

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PUGET SOUND ENLIGHTENED AGING Medical Care that’s Just Right BEING MORTAL Choosing a Graceful Death FOLLOW YOUR MONEY Invest in a Better World Five Feet of Good How to Make a Difference in a World Full of Challenges
Parks Wants You to Get to Know CoHousing Supportive Community Living for Every Age
Shelly

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Walking in Space

I woke up a few mornings ago with the song “Walking in Space” from the rock musical Hair stuck in my mind. It’s still here days later: “Walking in space / We find the purpose of peace / The beauty of life / You can no longer hide / Our eyes are open / Our eyes are open / Wide!”

I was just 15 when I first saw Hair at the Aquarius Theater on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, and the impact it made on me was deep and lasting. My eyes were indeed opened, and my Valley Girl, LA-suburban life would never again satisfy me. I had to get “back to the garden.”

At age 22 I made an intentional move to the Northwest and surrounded by nature and beauty, built a life. A wonderful life. As the years tick by at what seems an ever-quickening pace,

living intentionally feels more important than ever. Or maybe, better said, our third act is a time to intentionally live.

I am so excited to share the articles and essays in this issue on living with intention. Our writers bring attention to intention: How can we be more intentional in how we invest our money and our time, live our values, take care of our health, and plan for our future and eventual death?

Our cover story, “Shelly Parks Wants You to Get to Know Cohousing” (page 50) by Ann Hedreen, is about being intentional around how and where we live and the community we build. Robert Hirschfield’s beautiful essay, “Remembering is What We Bring” (page 48) is a story of his friend Alan Solomonow, founder of the Middle East Peace Project, who lived an authentic life that asked, “What can you live for rather than what can you die for?”

Speaking of authenticity, intention, and purpose, writer and scholar Skye Cleary brings us the wise words of an iconic 20th century philosopher, feminist, and ageism activist in “Simone de Beauvoir Recommends We Fight for Ourselves as We Age” (page 42).

There is some wonderful food for thought in this issue, along with solid advice. Take what you need, leave the rest. As my daughter would say, “You be you,” intentionally and authentically living your best life for the rest of your life, eyes wide open.

OUR VISION

Now, more than ever, older adults are viewing their retirement as a “Third Act” in their lives: A time for reinvention, connection, and engagement. 3rd Act Magazine is a bold, fresh, lifestyle magazine for older adults in the Puget Sound region. Our stories and articles challenge the worn-out perceptions of aging and offer a dynamic new vision: Let’s celebrate and embrace this stage of life, and age together with confidence.

PUBLISHERS

Victoria Starr Marshall

David Marshall

EDITOR Victoria Starr Marshall

COPY EDITOR Tina Potterf

ART DIRECTOR Philip K rayna

WEBSITE Philip Krayna

ADVERTI SING Dale Bohm

DISTRIBUTION & CIRCULATION

David Marshall

COVER PHOTO

Lara Grauer

3rd Act Magazine wants to hear from you! Email your comments, ideas, and questions to info@3rdActMagazine.com or mail to P.O. Box 412, Brinnon, WA 98320

3rd Act Magazine is published quarterly by Oshi Publishing, LLC. The opinions, advice, or statements expressed by contributing writers do not reflect those of the editors, the publishers, or 3rd Act Magazine

Copyright ©2023 Oshi Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.

Oshi Publishing, LLC, P.O. Box 412 Brinnon, WA 98320

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2 3rd Act magazine | summer 2023 www.3rdActMag.com
MESSAGE from the publisher
Our third act is a time to intentionally live.
Dancing at a music festival in Ladysmith, British Columbia

Find connection and joy IN

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Aging with Confidence summer 2023 | 3rd Act magazine 3
EVERYDAY LIVING
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18 54

FEATURES

32 BEING MORTAL

Planning for a graceful death is a gift to ourselves and our loved ones.

JULIE FANSELOW

42 SIMONE DE BEAUVOIR RECOMMENDS WE FIGHT FOR OURSELVES AS WE AGE

This iconic 20th century writer urges us to face up to aging with honesty and bravery. SKYE C. CLEARY

46 FIVE FEET OF GOOD

In a world full of challenges you can make a difference right where you are. SALLY FOX

50 SHELLY PARKS WANTS YOU TO GET TO KNOW COHOUSING

Thinking of downsizing? Cohousing combines the autonomy of private dwellings with the advantages of living in a supportive community.

ANN HEDREEN

COLUMNS

8 AGING WITH INTENTION

Planning for your third chapter.

LINDA HENRY

10 NAVIGATING GRIEF

What to do when those inevitable ”blue days” strike.

MARILEE CLARKE

12 MY THIRD ACT

Resilience in the face of loss leads to a happy life.

DEBBIE BLOUNT

16 BRAIN POWER

Exploring the benefits of the “tension” in living with intention.

MICHAEL C. PATTERSON

18 THE LIGHTER SIDE

Please say it's so—aging fallacies we want to believe.

ANNIE CULVER

4 3rd Act magazine | summer 2023 www.3rdActMag.com PUGET SOUND ENLIGHTENED AGING Medical Care that’s Just Right BEING MORTAL Choosing a Graceful Death FOLLOW YOUR MONEY Invest in a Better World Five Feet of Good How to Make a Difference in a World Full of Challenges Shelly Parks Wants You to Get to Know CoHousing Supportive Community Living for Every Age
COVER: Shelly Parks, founder of CoVision Consulting, is an advocate of cohousing living and resides in the Skagit Commons cohousing community in Anacortes, Washington. Photo by Lara Grauer
c o n t e n t
s
8

Enjoy

54 LINGERING W ITH THE LOTUS At age 75, paddling down the Mekong River was challenging and enlightening. DAVE ELLINGSON

56 THE ZEN OF TRAVEL JOURNALING

"When I travel, I make it a habit to collect only one thing: memories." RICK STEVES

60 SEATTLE MOSAIC ARTS

Claire Barnett turns an unimaginable tragedy into art and solace for others.

MISHA BERSON

WELLNESS

28 THE VIEW FROM HERE

Healthy aging is strong aging. KEO CAPESTANY

29 KEEP MOVING Running down Boston: Training tips from a marathon runner.

MIKE HARMS

30 TAKE BACK YOUR LIFE

36 THE CAREGIVER'S JOURNEY (PART 2)

Taking good care of yourself is essential to your role as a caregiver. JEANETTE LEARDI

38 SHEDDING SOCIETY'S IMAGE OF GOOD SKINCARE

Should you worry about losing your youthful physical appearance?

STEPHEN GOLANT

58 NOURISH YOUR BODY

Eating with the best of intentions— then choosing the donut anyway.

REBECCA CRICHTON

IN EVERY ISSUE

62 BOOKS

My View from the Back of the Bus, by Merritt Long

REVIEWED BY VICTORIA STARR MARSHALL

64 BRAIN GAMES

Challenge yourself with these word puzzles.

NANCY LINDE

ROBERT HIRSCHFIELD

Don't let back pain defeat you.

LARRY MOSS

Aging with Confidence summer 2023 | 3rd Act magazine 5 58 60 14 32 16
care that's just right.
LIFESTYLE
26 ENLIGHTENED AGING Medical
DR. ERIC B. LARSON
14 A HYGGE SUMMER
the
a
planning can keep unwelcome changes from raining on your retirement parade.
FOLLOW YOUR MONEY
intentional about where you invest to help leave a better world. LYNN
BUYING BLIND Shopping adventures while navigating the world with a dog as your eyes.
old man
an old friend.
simple pleasures of life for
jubilant summer. NANCY J. SCHAAF 20 FINANCIAL FORECAST Longevity
SCOTT SCHILL 22
Be
ISER 24
CAROL FLEISCHMAN 48 REMEMBERING IS WHAT WE BRING An
recalls

DEMENTIA

PLANNING

Find Your Voice

Lynne Iser’s reminder to find courage by thinking of the “future ones” and use this courage to make a difference comes at an important time (“Summon your Superpower: Courage to Face the Future,” Winter 2022/2023). With homelessness, poverty, hunger, and climate change challenging us, we need to speak up. We are never too old to speak to our members of Congress about passing legislation to curb these issues of equity. The renewal of the expanded Child Tax Credit and renters’ tax credits would be good starts. RESULTS (results.com) helps volunteers of all ages become more effective at this process. More voices equal more action and a better world. Find the courage to use yours.

— Willie Dickerson, Snohomish, Wash. Your labels!

I’m happy to be a subscriber and find your magazine very valuable. When I am done with an issue, I want to pass it along, but I’d prefer not to have my name and address on the cover. So, I try to peel off the label. Sigh. They are huge and impossible to peel off and I am good at that! Please, please choose a different kind of label next time. I can’t even read the article names on the cover because that dang label won’t quit. Thanks again for a great and useful publication.

— Sara Chapman, City not provided Editor’s note: Thank you, Sara, we are working with our printer, who has promised easy peel labels soon. talk

by mail: 3rd Act Magazine, P.O. Box 412, Brinnon, WA 98320 by email: info@3rdActMag.com

Please include your name, city, state, and phone number when possible. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

www.3rdActMag.com 6 3rd Act magazine | spring 2023
LETTERS
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Aging with Confidence summer 2023 | 3rd Act magazine 7 Not Available at Newsstands! Don’t miss a single issue! (But you can still order back issues if you did.) SUBSCRIBE TODAY! Go to 3rdActMag.com Only $20 a year or $28 for 2 years! PUGET SOUND THE CARGIVERS JOURNEY How Can You Prepare? NAVIGATING GRIEF After the Loss of a Partner MEMOIR WRITING In the Time of a Pandemic 10 Things I’m Glad to Let Go There’s Joy in Lightening Your Load Building a Better Future Clarence Moriwaki’s Values-Driven Life Fuels his Third Act PUGET SOUND Our New Normal ADAPTING TO LIFE PROFOUNDLY CHANGED BY COVID-19 An Age of Vulnerability MOVE FROM FEAR TO EMPOWERMENT Sillman & Phillips CHAMPIONS FOR THE ARTS HUGS FOR THE HOLIDAYS Celebrating Human Touch BRACE YOURSELF Orthodontics for Every Age GOING PLACES AGAIN Safe Travel Options PUGET SOUND SOUNDS OF HEALING Music for Mind, Body & Soul TECH TOOLS FOR OLDERS What’s Here Now, What’s Coming SUMMON YOUR SUPERPOWER Courage to Face the Future Your Own Supportive Community How to Create One That Meets Your Needs Ease Suffering, Add Joy Rev. Rick Reynolds Contemplates his Third Act PUGET SOUND ENTER STAGE LEFT Live Performances are Back SLOW MEDICINE Guard Against Overtreatment Passionate Purpose ADD MEANING AND JOY TO LIFE BY DOING SOMETHING YOU LOVE Turning Bombs into Trees GRIEF INSPIRED A LIFE LIVED WITH PURPOSE LeRoy Bell Rocks On At 70, He’s Having the Time of His Life HOW TO GET UNSTUCK Turn Bad Habits into Good PUGET SOUND THE BEAUTY OF AGING Reject Ageist Messaging FINISHING STRONG Map to a Purpose-Driven Life BEAT THE HEAT How to Stay Cool When It’s Hot Welcome to Elderhood Embracing Ritual To Honor Our Third Age My Grandma, My Hero A Life Well Lived Inspires Purpose and Change PUGET SOUND THE WRITE STUFF Writing for Health & Happiness LOSING OSHI Grieving the Loss of a Pet TAKING OFF OUR MASKS What are we hiding behind? In the Neighborhood of Love MISTER ROGERS, WE NEED YOU For Love of Earth ELDERS MUST COME TO THE RESCUE Tom Skerritt At 88, Imagination and Curiosity are His Touchstones for a Happy Life PUGET SOUND CONQUER YOUR SWEET TOOTH You’ll Feel Better and Age Better TAKE A SUNDAY DRIVE Day-Tripping in Western WA Beating Alzheimer’s THE LATEST SCIENCE ON TREATMENT AND PREVENTION Become a Citizen Scientist DISCOVER THE WORLD AND HELP IT, TOO Everyday Wonder How to Bring a Sense of Awe Back Into Your Life CAN’T SLEEP? Tips for a Better Night’s Rest PUGET SOUND PERILS OF DIABETES What You Should Know FIND YOUR INNER ARTIST Painting Made Easy DINNER FOR ONE (OR TWO) Downsizing Your Holiday Meal Washington Rhinestones HONORING SCHOLASTIC EXCELLENCE FOR 66 YEARS Holiday Giving INTANGIBLE GIFTS TO MAKE THIS YEAR SPECIAL Embracing Aging How Do You Feel About Getting Older? AGING WITH PRIDE GenPride serves LGBTQ Seniors THE OTHER BOOM Retirement Living Options Surge STROKE PRIMER Know the Signs Live Like You Mean It Don’t let Age Limit You A Whole New Place to Retire 3 Washington Towns Worth Considering Brain Power Join the Golden Age of Lifelong Learning PUGET SO UN D

Planning for the Third Chapter

Linda Henry writes regularly on topics related to aging, health care, and communication, and is the coauthor of several books, including Transformational Eldercare from the Inside Out: Strengths-Based Strategies for Caring. She conducts workshops nationally on aging and creating caring work environments. Her volunteer emphasis is age-friendly communities.

Although it has been said that having a plan for one’s life is useful, I suspect that most of us did not have such a roadmap growing up. We simply followed the expectations of our families, culture, and community, either spoken or unspoken. Like following a family recipe, we can become extensions of our parents by following similar careers, or maybe, we endeavored to enhance our family’s reputation by striving to become the “best” at some skill or activity. If we were encouraged to live a life that matters, we may have been led to intentional activism, perhaps volunteering with a church, school, library, or organization concerned with a social justice issue. Does this sound like you? Have you created your own roadmap?

Once 50 or older, we are likely thinking about and preparing for our third chapter and planning for the future. Maybe, the old plan no longer works. Not only is that true for us, but for the cities where we live as well. Communities are increasingly planning for their own third chapter as they acknowledge and prepare for an aging population.

Statistics tell us that there are approximately 45 million Americans who are age 65 or older. By 2030, that number will reach 73 million Americans. At that point, fully one in five Americans will be older than 65. And by 2034, the United States will, for the first time, be a country comprised of more older adults than children. Consequentially, more and more communities are becoming intentionally agefriendly. So, what does age-friendly mean?

According to the World Health Organization

(WHO), an age-friendly city is one that promotes active aging, recognizes the great diversity among older persons, and respects their decisions and lifestyle choices. It also ensures that policies, services, and structures related to the physical and social environment are designed to support and enable older people to age actively, to live in security, enjoy good health, and participate fully in their communities.

The AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities was established in April 2012 as an independent affiliate of the WHO Global Network for Age-Friendly Cities and Communities. Many of the towns, cities, counties, and states enrolled in the network use the Eight Domains of Livability framework to evaluate the availability and quality of features that will help communities become more livable not only for older residents, but for those of all ages. These include outdoor spaces and buildings, transportation, housing, social participation, respect and social inclusion, work and civic engagement, communications and information, and community health services.

To date, there are 749 age-friendly communities that are committed to being great places to live of which Washington State has five: Puyallup, Seattle, Tacoma, Renton, and White Salmon.

As Massachusetts Lt. Governor Kimberley Driscoll says, “Great cities do not happen by accident. They take careful planning, public input, and meaningful action.” By learning more about the age-friendly communities near us, we can find new opportunities to make a difference in our third chapter.

8 3rd Act magazine | summer 2023 www.3rdActMag.com
AGING WITH INTENTION
Aging with Confidence summer 2023 | 3rd Act magazine 9

Blue Days

As a person who was never prone to crying and could count on one hand the number of times I had done so in my life, my “blue days” came as a real shock. I had never known such heavy sorrow. At first I thought, “Why am I not coping better? What is wrong with me?” But I now realize that it is OK to not be OK. The death of a loved one is a tragedy of immense proportions, and it’s understandable to have moments of falling apart. You are not alone.

Two years have passed since my husband’s death, and both the frequency and the intensity of these periods have lessened. But I still experience some very sad days of overwhelming grief. I never quite know what the trigger will be—a song, something in nature, or even throwing out a whole batch of Christmas cards that herald, “We wish you a Merry Christmas.” Early on, I learned to lean into these big emotions. When deep sorrow strikes, I will often cancel calendar engagements and sometimes crawl back into bed for part of the day. You are given the grace by others to do this. People are very understanding following a devastating loss.

On these self-proclaimed “blue days,” I generally cry a lot with waves of melancholy being the order of the day. Melancholy can be a powerful positive force if you allow it. I use this bittersweet time to remember my partner and really focus on my grief—looking at photographs, reading old letters, playing favorite songs, or even watching movies we both loved. In a counterintuitive way, embracing the grief helps me cope. And I am convinced it has aided me in processing my sorrow in a healthier way.

I know many people might rather power through these moments and tamp down strong emotions. But sooner or later, to survive loss we must face our sorrow head on—accept it and even embrace it as a catalyst.

Of course, crawling back into bed every now and then might not work for you. Perhaps, a support group would facilitate the same emotional release. The key is to find an appropriate way to vent the sorrow. Something about fully grieving makes me feel like I am honoring my late husband in a profound way. I feel closer to him in those moments. The most important thing to understand is that whatever emotion you’re feeling at any given moment, even if it’s no emotion at all, is right for you.

To end on an optimistic note, I want to tell you that it will get better. The lows will become less deep, and the times of excruciating sorrow will become less frequent and of shorter duration. Hopefully, like me, you’ll find those original triggers such as music and old photographs will come to evoke warm and happy memories, and not just bring you to tears.

10 3rd Act magazine | summer 2023 www.3rdActMag.com NAVIGATING GRIEF
Marilee Clarke lives in Issaquah and loves the Northwest’s natural beauty. She is a collage artist and her passions include travel and anything creative. She and her late husband taught a course at Bellevue College on “How to get the most out of your retirement years” and that is just what she’s doing!
Aging with Confidence Longevity: The best thing to happen in ages I n t r o d u c i n g F o r e s e e L o n g e v i t y P l a n n i n g Wealthspan. Healthspan. Selfspan. www.srschill.com (206) 275 2700 1.800.272.3900 Visit us online at alzwa.org 24/7 Helpline The dementia journey isn't easy. Reaching us is. ADD YOUR FLOWER TO THE FIGHT TO END ALZHEIMER'S alz org/walk Is your loved one in need of memory care? We can help you with this challenging transition. • Caregivers around the clock • Thoughtful interior design and programming • Respite/short-term care • 3 nutritious chef-prepared meals daily, served restaurant style Is someone you love experiencing memory loss? We can help. 31000 9th Place SW, Federal Way, WA | (253) 275-4218 | www. mirrorlakevillage.com Scan the code to the right with your phone’s camera to schedule a tour

Resilience in the Face of Loss Leads to a Happy Life

I am a full-time college student and student athlete, believed to be the oldest female college athlete in history. In a span of three weeks in late April and early May, I received my Medicare card, Reinhardt University’s Student of the Year Award, my college diploma, and competed in the Appalachian Athletic Conference Women’s Golf

Championship with my Reinhardt University Golf Team. I still have another year of athletic eligibility, so a master’s degree may be in the picture. At the time of this writing, I am weighing my options.

The stories of a sexagenarian in college classes and traveling in a team van are as funny as one would expect.

The smart aleck in me came out when a professor told the class, “When I was your age…” I raised my hand and politely asked a question prefaced by, “With all due respect Dr. Martinez, I don’t think you have been my age yet.” Team van rides with rap music blaring and learning to use Snapchat have been interesting. How did this adventure come about?

I was happily married to my amazing husband Ben for nearly 30 years. He passed away in November 2017 after a lengthy illness. The chaplain at Hospice Atlanta gave me a great gift when he

MY THIRD ACT
12 3rd Act magazine | summer 2023

said I was one of the most resilient people he had ever met. Widowed at 59 was not what I ever pictured my life looking like, so I was hopeful that resilience was not just something chaplains were supposed to say. Four months later, my father passed away, so my 91-year-old mother and I learned to be widows together.

Golf was a passion for me and my husband, but without him to share the passion I was lost, even in my favorite sport. While I had enjoyed two careers, one as an x-ray technician in Atlanta, and one as a professional ski instructor in Vail, Colorado, I contemplated going back to college because I regretted not having a four-year degree.

In 2019, I was playing golf at my club in Atlanta when I learned my young caddy had just finished his freshman year as a college golfer at nearby Reinhardt University. Coincidentally, Reinhardt was the college my high school guidance counselor had suggested, and the school where my mother-in-law had been a dorm mother in the late 1970s. The seed was planted. By December 2019, I mustered up the nerve to contact the Reinhardt Golf Coach to see if a non-traditional student

could play on an NAIA team. The answer was yes. I tried out, applied to college, and walked onto the golf team at Reinhardt. My college career was underway!

With the pandemic shutdown, I eased into college life in spring 2020 with just a couple online classes, but by fall I was a full-time student and college athlete. My 18- to 20-year-old classmates were accepting, and I loved every minute of class and being part of a team. I was inspired to work on my game so I would be assured of qualifying for the travel squad, which I did for every tournament but one. I studied hard and maintained a 4.0 GPA despite struggling with Statistics 101 and Business 150, which was all computer tasks such as Excel and Power Point. I excelled in History and English, and took the required Freshman PE class with other student athletes.

I spent time in the student dining hall and even put on the “freshman 15” because my break in classes was at lunchtime on Wednesdays, which happens to be mac and cheese day. I got to know other student athletes and made friends with classmates and faculty members alike. Once, rooming with a 20-year-old teammate I feared I let out a snore. When I asked her if I did, she responded, “That’s ok, all old people snore, you should hear my grandma!” I paid for my own room for the next trip just in case.

As a 64-year-old, widowed, firstgeneration, spirited college athlete with no math skills, a wicked sense of humor, and caregiver for my mother, this journey has been more interesting and rewarding than I could ever imagine, more fun than I ever imagined, and has enriched my life beyond my wildest dreams. It’s never too late to follow your dreams.

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Increase Your Happiness with a Hygge Summer

The 2023 United Nations World Happiness Report ranks Finland as the happiest country globally—its fifth year as number one—with Denmark a close second. The top 5 happiest countries in the world are all Nordic countries. Where does the United States rank? Sadly, at 19.

Perhaps, we could learn to be happier if we incorporated a little more hygge—a philosophy central to the Danish culture— into our lives. Hygge, pronounced hoo-guh, is a Danish word that infers “a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment.” The hygge lifestyle is all about enjoying the simple pleasures of life and relishing small comforts in a cozy and relaxing way, either by ourselves or in the company of a few friends or family. “Hygge is about having less, enjoying more; the pleasure of simply being. It is generous and celebratory, a way to remember the importance of the simple act of living itself,” says Louisa Thomsen Brits in her book, The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Contentment, Comfort, and Connection.

Hygge is often considered a way to cozy up for winter, but

we can also enjoy hygge in summer months as a way to nourish our soul. Think of favorite warm weather moments such as picnics, bike rides, outdoor concerts, farmers markets, and warm nights on the porch. Hygge is the feeling we get when we are comfortable, happy, and utterly content in the moment. Summer is also the time to travel, go on vacation, spend time with our families, and slow down our everyday lives. Here are some suggestions for a hygge summer:

GO OUTSIDE

Doing anything outside in nature is a great way to create an atmosphere of hygge. Take a hike, explore a forest, walk around parks, ride a bike, go bird watching, or visit the beach. Discover something you love doing outdoors and you will feel amazing.

LOCATE A SUNNY SPOT AND ENJOY A GOOD BOOK

The essence of hygge is to remain in the present, finding joy in simple things. In summer, embrace hygge by finding a sunny spot in your garden, on the porch, or in nature. Adding a hammock and gently swinging while enjoying a good book is the ultimate summer hygge activity. Turn off the mobile phone and enjoy the afternoon with a book, tasty snacks, and homemade lemonade. As a bonus, remember that being outside is excellent for our mental health, too.

HAVE A PICNIC

Good food and great company outdoors are staples of a hygge life. A few ideas are a picnic in your backyard, on the front porch, or in your favorite park. Picnics do not have to occur just

14 3rd Act magazine | summer 2023 www.3rdActMag.com

at lunch or dinner time. How about a sunrise breakfast? You can make this a fun adventure by discovering new places for summertime picnics. Hygge food ideas include comfort food such as pasta salads and fresh fruit.

GO FOR A WALK

One of the simplest and most hygge activities is just going for a walk, alone or with friends. We are fortunate to have numerous parks and trails to stroll. Italian actress Eleonora Duse said, “If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things in nature have a message you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.”

SHOP AT THE LOCAL FARMERS MARKETS

Shopping at farmers markets is hygge because it is all about the experience as we enjoy our surroundings and choose the ripest, juiciest, seasonal produce available. After shopping and gathering fresh fruit and veggies, our family can enjoy the seasonal bounties and taste these fruits and veggies in yummy desserts, sauces, and salads.

Celebrate this summer season by trying new recipes featuring vegetables at the peak of their flavor. These include bell peppers, Swiss chard, corn, tomatoes, and zucchini. And don’t miss out on delicious summer fruit such as berries, peaches, and watermelon.

MAKE LEMONADE

Is there anything better on a hot summer’s day than an ice cool glass of homemade lemonade? It is easy to make and it is the perfect beverage to share with friends, making it even more hygge.

MAKE JAM

Making homemade jam is one of the best hygge ideas as it is a great way to use up those summer berries. It is a healthy choice as many store-bought jams contain artificial ingredients. Homemade food is quintessentially hygge, and homemade jam is even more so because it makes the perfect gift. Hygge is all about strengthening relationships and nurturing bonds with loved ones.

The essence of hygge is to be present and appreciate the simple things that come into our life. In the summer months we can enjoy extended daylight, be outdoors more, and be aware of life’s simple pleasures. It is a lifestyle that celebrates living in the moment, finding beauty in simplicity, and nurturing ourselves and others with coziness.

In The Little Book of Hygge, Meik Wiking reminds us that, “Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. It is about being with the people we love.”

Enjoy a hygge summer!

Aging with Confidence summer 2023 | 3rd Act magazine 15
Nancy J. Schaaf, RN, BSN, MEd, is a retired registered nurse and educator.

I’m 75. I figure I can reasonably live to age 90. So that gives me 15 more years of life. That’s a fair amount of time when you think of it. I could get a lot done in that amount of time. What will I do with these precious remaining years? I don’t want the final 15 years to slip away like sand slipping through my fingers. I want to live them with intention.

Intention is a funny sounding word. In-tenshun. In-TENSION. I find it amusing, and somewhat ironic, that the word “intention”—meaning determination to do something or to act in a certain way—can be heard as “in-TENSION.” This sounding of the word suggests that a certain anxiety is implicit in the concept of living with purpose. That’s ironic!

Does living an intentional life imply a willingness to accept tension, anxiety, and stress into one’s life? One of my goals for my remaining years—an intention—is to focus less on external accomplishments and more on the internal workings of my mind. I feel the need to cultivate a calmer, more accepting state-of-mind that can face whatever the future brings with equanimity.

Will tension be an inevitable part of my quest for calm?

I had been thinking that the presence of tension would be a bad thing, antithetical to what I was trying to achieve. But perhaps this is wrong. It seems likely that tension is an inevitable aspect of life. Some

THE GUITAR WILL PRODUCE NO MUSIC UNLESS THERE IS TENSION IN THE STRINGS. NO TENSION, NO MUSIC. HOW CAN WE TURN THE TENSION IN OUR LIVES INTO MUSIC?

degree of tension, for example, is needed to resist the gradual slide into passivity and inactivity that seem to plague advanced age. I don’t want to fall into self-inflicted ageist attitudes that would shrink my life, so there is a tension to resist those impulses. When the curtains come down, I want to leave the stage with a bang, not a whimper—a peaceful bang.

Rather that resist or deny the tension, a better strategy would be to learn to live with it. Better yet, we should learn how to work with the tension.

A couple of evocative metaphors occurred to me as I pondered the inevitability of tension. I’ve been thinking about the arts—and music in particular—and the image of a plucked guitar string resonated with me (pun intended).

The guitar will produce no music unless there is tension in the strings. A flaccid string won’t vibrate fast enough to produce the required sound waves. Music—organized sound—is produced by purposeful pulsing that creates tension and release of air waves. We produce music by creating tension on vibrating surfaces, and our auditory

system feels this tension and converts it into the electrical pulses that our brain interprets as sound. No tension, no music. How can we turn the tension in our lives into music?

There are no stories of interest without tension. A narrative without conflict has no drive, no momentum. A story without tension is boring. It is the constant ebb and flow of tension and release that propels us through a well-crafted narrative. Interest is sustained by the skillful manipulation of expectation (tension) and resolution. Each resolution, of course, creates a new form of tension and the story is swept forward on waves of pulsing tensions.

Tension is akin to stress. Short-term, acute stress is adaptive and highly beneficial. It alerts us to danger and signals when our body and mind have lost homeostatic balance. When the threat passes and balance is restored, the stress is relieved. The tension abates. It is chronic, unrelieved stress that is dangerous and destructive. There is no resolution, no period of respite in the narrative of chronic stress. The same would be true of tension. It is the harmonics of tension

16 3rd Act magazine | summer 2023 www.3rdActMag.com BRAIN POWER

and release that produces the music, not a constant drone of constant noise.

The metaphor of wading into a flowing river also occurred to me. The current of the river creates a tension against our body. It pushes us, relentlessly, downstream. If we resist the flow and doggedly try to swim against the current, the tension is magnified. Swimming upstream requires great exertion and is ultimately exhausting. It is so much easier, more pleasant and fulfilling to flow with the flow. The challenge is to navigate within the flow, to use the tension of the current to propel us in direction we want to go.

For the next 15 years or so I will be immersed in the steady flow of life as it inexorably winds its way toward my death. I will inevitably confront the tensions of change. My body continues to present me with new challenges. Rather than simply give in to limitations, I intend to adapt and adjust. I’ll find new ways to keep swimming with the current as best I can.

My mind, hopefully, will remain sharp. But it needs an attitude adjustment. I have for too long exercised only my rational, conceptual mind. I have neglected my intuitive, experiential mind. I should admit that I have neglected my spirituality. I have been swimming upstream, wanting the world to behave as I think it

should behave, trying to construct neat explanations for what, ultimately, is unknowable. I intend to spend my remaining years learning to accept and cherish the world as it is, in all its magnificent and alarming mystery.

My intention is to surf the fluctuations of life’s tensions to harmonize more comfortably with the mysteries of existence. What about you?

Aging with Confidence
Michael C. Patterson is an author, teacher, and consultant who specializes in promoting successful longevity, living long, and living well. He explores his ideas about the hemispheric gelassenheit on the Mind Over Muddle series of the MINDRAMP Podcasts. Learn more about Patterson’s work with MINDRAMP at www.mindramp.org.

Please Say It’s So!

Aging fallacies we want to believe

Blanket statements—the world is full of them today. Some are as subtle as lightweight goose down. Others are heavy like those trendy weighted blankets.

An article titled, “The Brain of an Elderly Person” came my way as an email link from an old friend. With enough blanket statements to make a bunch of patchwork quilts, the writing was somewhat peculiar, yet interesting, and loaded with generalizations about aging brains.

The first claim? “The brain of an elderly person is much more plastic than is commonly believed.”

The article is attributed to a neuropsychiatrist at a clinic in India, but was circulated under the name of Dr. Kenneth Pelletier, a clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Tossed in—who knows why—is the unnamed director of the George Washington University College of Medicine.

Much of the article’s research is said to have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine, a respected, peer-reviewed scholarly publication. One line attributed to the research: “The average age of dads is 76 years.”

Unfortunately, that’s about when the alarms should be going off in our plastic brains, but who doesn’t want to hear that an aging brain of someone over 60 has greater flexibility and is “more likely to make the right decisions,” dad or not.

The article also says that with age we’re “less exposed to negative emotions.” Wait. Does the author think we all twiddle our thumbs and spend our days watching soap operas, reading romance novels, or playing tic-tactoe? Aren’t we endlessly susceptible to negative emotions when the roof leaks, dandelions overtake the yard, that lottery ticket isn’t a winner, or someone snags the last good parking spot at

Costco during a hail storm?

If this theory is correct—that we lack negative emotions as we age— how is it that in modern times people have become so entangled in divisive political news and discussions?

For instance, Republican Nikki Haley, former South Carolina governor and United Nations Ambassador, recently said any politician past 75 should be tested for competence. Plenty of her elders beyond 70 had a negative reaction, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

“Ageism!” Sanders growled. “Some folks who are 40 are less competent than those who are 80.”

Haley, of course, now in her 50s, recently announced she’s running for president.

The brains of elders are “no longer as fast” as they were when they were young, the article concedes. Ah, but its author also says, “the peak of human intellectual activity occurs at about

18 3rd Act magazine | summer 2023 www.3rdActMag.com THE LIGHTER SIDE

70 years old when the brain begins to work at full strength.” Take that, Nikki Haley!

Hold on. How do we determine when we’ve reached that ever-lovin’ peak? And where’s the wisdom in all this mumbo-jumbo about a brain’s “full strength” as though it’s energized by some secret formula or maybe highcaffeine coffee?

Here’s one reassuring nugget, though: “Absent-mindedness and forgetfulness appear due to an overabundance of information. Therefore, you do not need to focus your whole life on unnecessary trifles.” No more grocery lists, perhaps?

Before you take a big sigh of relief and think this is beginning to make some sense, hold on a sec. Michael Patterson, a regular contributor to 3rd Act on the topic of brain power and

mental balance, weighs in with some insights.

“Getting old doesn’t make you wise,” Patterson says. “There are as many dumb old people as there are dumb young people.”

Patterson also recommends a note of caution after discovering that Snopes, the Internet’s fact-checking app, rated the information “false” and not published in the New England Journal of Medicine

“’The Brain of an Elderly Person,’” Patterson says, raises “some interesting points, but many unsupported and of dubious validity.” He adds, “That said, I do firmly believe that brains and minds can become wiser and more creative with age.”

Still, what’s with the notion that growing old automatically makes people wise? “Younger people excel in

certain fields, such as physics,” says Patterson, “while older brains excel in other fields that benefit from the accumulation of information.”

In any event, the article’s conclusion is this: “If a person leads a healthy lifestyle, moves, has a feasible physical activity, and has full mental activity, intellectual abilities do not decrease with age, but only grow, reaching a peak by the age of 80–90 years.”

Woo-hoo! That gives us all quite the goal, real or imagined.

Annie Culver developed a knack for unearthing oddball characters and improbable events as a staff writer for various newspapers. In the early 90s, she went to work for websites where she wrote sassy essays aimed at women. In recent years, she morphed into a writer for several universities in the Northwest. She retired in 2016, yet still enjoys freelancing.

But there’s one place to do it b t.

For nearly 50 years, we’ve been reimagining and reinventing senior living, making sure older adults like you have the most fulfilling, rewarding, and productive opportunities possible. Welcome to Fairwinds – Brighton Court, where it’s all about living each day with purpose while contributing to your community in new and exciting ways and, most importantly, on your own terms.

Call to learn more about our Summer Savings package.

Aging with Confidence summer 2023 | 3rd Act magazine 19
6520 - 196th St SW Lynnwood, WA 98036 425-374-1830 fairwindsbrightoncourt.com THERE’S NO
TO RETIRE.
ONE WAY

Forecast: Sunny with a Chance of Rain

Mark Twain famously said everyone complains about the weather, but no one ever does anything about it. It is a pity Mr. Twain never met a longevity advisor! Longevity planning experts are changing our third act forecast from storm clouds gathering to clear blue skies.

So, what exactly is this practice of longevity planning, and how can it help us achieve our retirement goals? For most of us, we want to live healthy, engaged, and relaxed lives. We want to pursue our passions, share our knowledge, and cultivate gratitude. We also want to enjoy family harmony, deepen our friendships, and avoid our worst fears, such as diminishing autonomy, becoming a burden, forced moves, family conflict, or outliving our nest egg.

It is no wonder we are anxious about aging atmospherics. The current forecast calls for a 70 percent chance of misery. Even when we retire right, with a great family, solid nest egg, and traditional legal documents in place, if we hit a health bump in the road, more than 70 percent of the time our challenging system delivers our worst fears—our families overwhelmed, adrift, or even in conflict. And the ultimate indignity is that we may get pushed to live in a nursing facility, all while watching our hard-earned nest egg slip away.

But don’t despair, because longevity planning is here to offer a new forecast! Longevity planning focuses on five key drivers of modern retirement success: finances, legal, health, housing, and family. By

simplifying, dignifying, and unifying our lives and those of our loved ones, we can radically change the odds in our favor.

Goal number one is to avoid retirement interrupted. Currently, the average American lifespan is 78.5 years but average health span— the period of life spent in good health— is only 66 years. Did you know that just by changing doctors to a geriatrician after 70 years old you can reduce the likelihood of disability by 25 percent?

Longevity advisors offer proactive solutions that you won’t find elsewhere. Smart targeted solutions that empower you to shape your story and avoid family burden or drama down the road. For example, if a nurse says to your power of attorney, “Your mom can never go home again, here is 15 minutes with a discharge planner, where do you want to put her?” A good child wants to do right, but asking the social worker, “What do you recommend?” may put you on a path toward the nursing facility. Instead, you want them to say, “Hold on one second, I know Mom wants to go home if possible,” then call your geriatric care manager—your lawyer for the health system—to work with the hospital and, if viable, set things up at home in a cost-efficient and effective way.

With the right planning, your forecast for tomorrow can be clear blue skies. So why wait? Start your longevity planning journey today, and embrace the possibilities of a bright and sunny future.

20 3rd Act magazine | summer 2023 www.3rdActMag.com
Scott Schill, a NW native, found his calling in longevity law after a searing experience advocating for his mom. As the director of Longevity Law & Planning at S. R. Schill & Associates, and founder of Thrive Longevity Law, Scott believes that relationships are key to longevity. He lives in West Seattle with his family.
Longevity planning can keep unwelcome changes from raining on your parade
Aging with Confidence summer 2023 | 3rd Act magazine 21 For the Best Writing on How to Age with Confidence 3rdActMag.com There are 25 terrific articles in this issue of 3rd Act Magazine. There are 1,000 terrific articles on 3rdActMag.com. Why Limit Yourself?

FOLLOW YOUR MONEY

As a child growing up in the 1950s, I would bring a dollar to school every Wednesday to deposit in our local Dime Savings Bank, with each deposit being handwritten in my bankbook. That experience taught me to put a “little something” away all through my working years. Now, I have a tidy sum of money that will support me through my retirement and, I hope, help bolster my children’s and grandchildren’s futures—but only if the world is not consumed by raging forest fires, unprecedented storms, or a host of increasingly common climate disasters. Our investments are meant to secure our future, but the world’s largest asset managers—Vanguard, Fidelity, and BlackRock—are investing our retirement savings into fossil fuel development and deforestation, which puts us all at risk. It’s well-documented that just staying at our current fossil fuel consumption will send the world past 2°C of warming. Yet, rather than heed warnings to reduce emissions, the fossil fuel industry plans to increase production through 2030, producing twice as much emissions as our carbon budget allows—funded by our investments.

The danger is not only to our climate, but also to our nest eggs. Fossil fuel investments are projected to lose

half their value by 2036 as the world is forced to transition to renewable energy. According to a November 2021 article in The Guardian, many economists believe climate change will cause the next financial crisis, while too many American families are still recovering from the last one. As in 2008, financial institutions are making potentially catastrophic bets with our money on doomed assets, but this time those assets are fossil fuels. If these companies continue to ignore climate risk, their investors will face increasing wealth destruction. These are not the safe, steady investment choices they claim to be.

This financial danger is compounded by the risk of climate chaos through projects that undermine indigenous people’s rights and disproportionately harm communities of color. In the Ecuadorian Amazon, indigenous Quechua and Campesino communities are at risk of losing their drinking water due to the Block 28 drilling operation on their land—an operation to which they did not consent. Together, BlackRock and Vanguard have $1.2 billion in investments in oil companies operating in the Amazon that are contributing to indigenous and human rights abuses, forest destruction, and loss of biodiversity.

I am an elder—not an economist, nor a financial analyst—and therefore, I am most concerned about the world that I am leaving to future generations. Yes, I want to secure my own financial

22
BEING INTENTIONAL ABOUT WHERE YOU INVEST WILL HELP LEAVE A BETTER WORLD FOR YOUR GRANDCHILDREN AND THEIRS.

RESOURCES

Check out these online resources to help stop the financing of fossil fuels:

• Vanguard-SOS

• Elders Action Network’s Fix My Funds Campaign

• Fix My Funds

• Work For Climate

• Fossil Free Funds

• ThirdAct.org

stability but not at the expense of my grandchildren’s future.

I believe today’s elders have a responsibility to act wisely and to speak up for the unborn children of the future—following the advice of our Native American neighbors who counsel that we must consider the seven generations in all our actions. This “Seventh Generation Principle” was a core value of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) who taught that we must respect and care for this world as we are “borrowing it” from future generations. Can we become “good ancestors” and ask ourselves, “What is the impact of our actions on those who come after us?”

As a child, my parents impressed upon me the importance of returning anything that I borrowed in the same or even better condition. Yet today we are on the path to leave a dirty and depleted world to our children. A world that is less healthy, with fewer resources, and many more problems, including an increasing number of young people do not want to bring children into this world.

Although many of us care deeply about climate change we often don’t know what to do about it. We might feel “small,” facing the immensity of the financial industry. While it’s true that individually we do not have much power, by working together

we can make a difference. We can join the growing global movement of people—ordinary folks like you and me—who are leveraging their power as customers and demanding changes in fossil fuel financing.

Start now: Urge your asset manager to offer climate-safe investments that do not include fossil fuels, deforestation practices, or high-emitting industries that are not actively decarbonizing. Attend Fix My Funds webinars, where we can support each other in using new tools, like Fossil Free Funds, signing petitions, and sending letters to asset managers. We can empower ourselves as skillful and confident investor activists.

Our investments are our resources. How they are used by our investment companies will determine the world that we leave to those we love.

We have an opportunity, as older folks, to fully step into our role as elders and connect our love for our children with our concern for future generations—our descendants. This love will help us overcome any discomfort and empower our actions, and demand that our financial institutions do the right thing and stop funding the destructive practices that harm the future for all.

As we embody our values and create hope through our actions, we’ll move steps closer toward leaving that thriving and just world that we desire for future generations.

Lynne Iser is president of Elders Action Network, and directs their Fix My Funds campaign as they works to build a movement of elders addressing the critical issues of our time. She previously co-founded the Spiritual Eldering Institute (sage-ing.org), with Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, and now teaches the work of Joanna Macy. For the future of her grandchildren, she is a member of the Rocking Chair Rebels, and an active participant in the Vanguard-SOS campaign to end the financing of fossil fuels.

Aging with Confidence summer 2023 | 3rd Act magazine 23
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buying blind

Have you ever tried to buy a dress you can’t see? I have as I’m blind, so I would shop with friends. Unfortunately, this ritual ended after I learned to be more discriminating about their tastes. Happily bringing home a dress that a friend helped me choose, my husband, Don, offered a surprising observation: “The fit is great, but do you like all those huge fish?” The dress went back.

I now rely on Don—and my guide dog Misty—as my shopping partners. We enter the store and make a beeline for the dress department. Don sees two or three salespeople scatter. The aisles empty, as if a bomber is on the scene. I realize I’m holding the reason. Although she is better behaved than most children, a 65-pound German Shepherd is imposing.

On one recent shopping trip a brave saleswoman approached us. “Can I help you?” she said to my husband.

“Yes, I’m looking for a dress,” I replied (since I will wear it, not him).

“Maybe something in red or white.”

“Red or white,” she said, very slow and loud (though my hearing is fine). I manage not to fall when Misty jumped back on my feet, frightened by the woman’s booming voice. Don was distracted, too. I heard him rustling through hangers on a nearby rack. I called his name softly to get his attention. Another man answered my call. What were the chances of two Dons being in ear shot?

“This is great!” Don said holding up a treasure. I swept my hand over the dress to examine it. It had a neckline that plunged to the hemline. Hmm, I walk 3 miles daily with Misty, and stay current with fashion, but I’m positive

24 3rd Act magazine | summer 2023 www.3rdActMag.com

this costume would look best on Jennifer Lopez.

Finally, I choose three dresses to try on. Another shopper distracts Misty, even though the harness sign reads: Please do not pet. I’m working. “Your dog reminds me of my Max, who I recently put to sleep,” she says. I am sympathetic.

Don is back. He tells me the route to travel to the dressing room. I command Misty: right, left, right and straight ahead. We wove our way past several small voices: “Mom, why is that dog in the store?” “Mom, is that a dog or a wolf?” My personal favorite is, “But, that lady’s eyes are open.” I trust these parents to explain, “The lady is giving her guide dog commands. Her dog is a helping dog. They’re partners.” I questioned whether this positive message has been communicated when I heard an adult say, “Oh, there’s one of those blind dogs.”

Other people, though wellintentioned, can interfere with my effective use of Misty. Guide dogs are highly trained and very dependable, but occasionally make potentially dangerous mistakes. On my way through the aisles, Misty bumped me into a pointed rack, requiring my quick action. I used a firm tone to correct her, and she dived to the ground like a dying actress. Witnessing this performance, another shopper chastised me for being cruel. I was shocked. Misty’s pride was hurt, but I needed to point out the error in order to avoid future mistakes. If I did not discipline her, what would prevent Misty from walking me off the curb into traffic?

Composing myself, I was delighted by the salesperson’s suggestion: “Can I take you to your dressing room?” I was less delighted when

Rules of courtesy

When you meet a blind person: Don’t assume the person needs assistance. Instead, ask: “Can I help?” or “Is there anything I can do for you?”

Address questions and comments directly to the blind person, not their companion. Don’t raise your voice or talk more slowly than usual. The person can’t see, but he or she can hear.

Guide the blind person’s hand to a seat, placing it on the back of a chair.

Do not pet or distract a working dog in harness. Dogs must concentrate on the owner’s commands and safety.

A s a companion, assist with mobility by offering your elbow in “sighted guide” fashion (called so because the person who sees goes first).

Feel free to say, “See you later” or “You should have seen that.” I f you are leaving the room, let the blind person know. For example, please say, “I’m going to ...” or “I’m leaving now.”

When placing a dish of food in front of a blind person, use the face of a clock as a reference. For example, say, “Your chicken is at 12 o’clock, rice is at 6 o’clock, and peas are at 3 o’clock.”

she grabbed me and pushed me ahead while Misty trailed us on a leash. I wriggled out of the woman’s wrestling hold. Gently pushing her ahead, I lightly held her elbow in sighted guide technique (called so because the person who sees goes first).

“This is better. Please put my hand on the doorknob. I’ll take it from here,” I say. In the room, Misty plopped down and sighed with boredom. I sighed with relief that she was still with me. Once, I was so preoccupied with trying on clothes that Misty sneaked out beneath the dressing room doors. I heard her tags jingling as she left, but was half-dressed and couldn’t retrieve her. Fortunately, Don was outside the door and snagged her leash.

I modeled the dresses for Don and, feeling numb, bought all three. Leaving the store, Misty’s magnetism, like the Pied Piper, attracted a toddler who draped himself over her. She remained calm as he tried to ride her. The boy’s fun was soon foiled by his frantic mother.

When we returned to our car, I give Misty a treat and lots of praise. A good day’s work deserves a good day’s pay for both of us. “Shop till you drop” or “retail therapy” could never be my motto. To me, “charge” means going into battle.

Carol Fleischman’s essays have appeared in Buffalo News, Chicken Soup books and Guideposts publications, among others. Nadine, My Funny and Trusty Guide Dog, her first children’s book, was released in 2015 by Pelican Publishing. Carol lives with her current Seeing Eye dog, Tino.

Aging with Confidence summer 2023 | 3rd Act magazine 25
Carol with her new seeing eye dog, Tino.

Medical Care That’s Just Right

Enlightened aging and living with intention involve learning about aging and then paying attention to what happens as we age. Proactive people look ahead, acting in anticipation of future events including problems, needs, and changes. Enlightened agers know that change will come with age and can accept that. But part of being proactive is that we work to influence the changes that will occur, we act with intention when they occur, and understand the setting in which they occur.

We can anticipate that most of us will seek and need more medical care as we get older. One challenge a proactive ager will likely face is taking an activist role in trying for Goldilocks care (not too much, not too little), at a time when overdiagnosis and overtreatment are common in most U.S. communities. This is not as easy as it sounds, and also applies to the self-care efforts we make. As a physician, I’ve seen people who are skeptical of “modern” medicine and end up avoiding seeking care they need. And others, who for complex reasons, overconsume, running from test to test

to yet another test—often seeking more treatment than what is good for them. Activist patients seek out information from reliable sources, such as U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations, regional health departments, and reliable public sites such as the Mayo Clinic. They are not afraid of asking penetrating questions when advised to go for testing such as, “How exactly is this test going to help me?” “Could the test discover things of no significance due to false positive findings or incidentalomas?” and “What are the benefits and, importantly, downsides of a treatment or test?”

Consider two recent events that have been in the news: COVID vaccines and the opioid epidemic. The vaccine is “right care”—for individuals and for the public’s health. The opioid epidemic grew from the false claims that newer synthetic opioid drugs such as Vicodin and Oxycontin were safe, or at least safer and nonaddictive. An enlightened proactive and activist, who worried about taking a new vaccine would seek reliable sources for more information. They would share any worry or skepticism with their doctor or other professionals. Even asking, “Did you take the vaccine? Did your family?”

On the other hand, I wish more people, including doctors, dentists, hospitals, and their emergency rooms had resisted the convenience of giving their patients large numbers of these synthetic opioids—often primarily for convenience’s sake. Some activist, proactive patients did ask questions and express concern, albeit not often or soon enough. Unfortunately, many patients liked the “high” that accompanied the pain relief. The important lesson may be what have we learned. Doctors must avoid overprescribing and seeking magic bullet solutions to complex problems of aging, including common, sometimes chronic aches and pain. To find that “just right” Goldilocks place—in self-care or the medical care we are receiving—requires being proactive and an activist. It’s an attitude and the actions that go with it!

26 3rd Act magazine | summer 2023 www.3rdActMag.com ENLIGHTENED AGING
Eric B. Larson, MD, MPH, is the author, with Joan DeClaire, of Enlightened Aging. He is the founding principal investigator of the Adult Changes in Thought (ACT) study, ongoing for about 30 years. ACT recently was awarded a $55.6 million expansion grant from the National Institutes of Health.

LIVING WITH INTENTION IN SENIOR LIVING

In the world of senior living, living with intention means many things. For one, it means deciding for yourself if/when it’s the right time to move into a senior living community. Unfortunately, many people wait too long to make this decision for themselves, and it then becomes a decision that their family has to make for them.

Visiting senior living communities, such as Quail Park of Lynnwood, before you want or need to move puts you in the driver’s seat. You know what you like and what you enjoy doing. By visiting different communities you can narrow down, for yourself and your family, the communities that you would be comfortable living in. Then, if you do decide to move into

a senior living community, or if life takes a turn and you can’t remain at home safely, you’ve intentionally made the decision as to which one(s) you want.

Another intentional choice is how involved you want to be. Many senior living communities have more activities and events than you can possibly enjoy. I hear from our residents quite often that they have to make a choice

between this activity or that one because so many are available. What a wonderful problem to have!

Exercise and health are other intentional choices that we make on a daily basis. Will we eat well today, or splurge a bit and have that big piece of cake? At Quail Park of Lynnwood, the four pages of dining options (along with the two dining rooms and pub) give you multiple opportunities to be intentional with your food choices. The gym, indoor pool, and exercise classes also offer options for health and wellness (and to exercise off that piece of cake!).

Socialization is also an intentional decision and one that becomes more difficult as we age. In a study published on Feb. 20, 2019, in The Journals of Gerontology, it was reported that older adults who interact with people beyond their usual social circle (family and close friends) are more likely to have higher levels of physical activity, greater positive moods, and fewer negative feelings. Living in a senior living community provides so many opportunities to be with others and enjoy the benefits of increased socialization.

If you’re curious about senior living, and how you can live with intention in a community, call or visit Quail Park of Lynnwood today. We’d love to show you around!

Aging with Confidence summer 2023 | 3rd Act magazine 27
Call Today to Schedule a Tour or For More Information Quail Park of Lynnwood 425-329-6591 QuailParkofLynnwood.com SPONSORED CONTENT

HEALTHY AGING IS STRONG AGING

I am 86, healthy, and not a god.It is never too late to start a program to increa se mobility, strength, and power. I had an experience that approximates starting late in life: In late 2013, I was diagnosed with a very aggressive prostate cancer. It was treated with 43 sessions of radiation and injections of Lupron to suppress all my testosterone. The radiation ended in May 2014, but because my cancer was so aggressive the chemical treatment continued for several years.

I lost a lot of muscle mass and strength. My testosterone is still very far from normal. My “T” is so low that it makes it very difficult to regain muscle mass and strength. My

oncologist says that any treatment to increase my testosterone is an absolute no. So, I have to workout with devout persistence.

I used to exercise every day until I learned it is not the way to get stronger. It’s now well documented that one gets stronger not during the workout, but during the recovery. I workout four days a week with progressively heavier barbells and get a bit stronger each time. Because of this, I can deadlift 100 lbs. more than a year ago.

While I probably do not do enough aerobic stuff, three days a week I do 100 squats and 50 heel drops. I do planks, but hate them and keep finding excuses not to do them

regularly. Two or three times every day I hang from a bar for about 45 seconds—an exercise that is good for your back and hand grip. If all this sounds like bragging that’s because it is! But I like to think that I do it to inspire others.

Who does not want to be stronger? Everybody needs to be stronger, particularly us older folk. The only remedy for frailty is strength. Swimming, running, walking—all these activities are good but do not make anyone stronger. Only pumping iron—the marvels of barbells—can make a person strong.

Keo Capestany was born and raised in Cuba. He’s lived in Seattle since 1962, and worked 25 years as claims adjuster. After retiring in 1998, he got certified as an interpreter for state and federal courts until the pandemic. He was recently featured in a Washington Post story on older adults doing extreme sports.

28 3rd Act magazine | summer 2023 www.3rdActMag.com
THE VIEW FROM HERE
“...for though he is old he is a god, and a god’s old age is tough and green.” —Virgil, The Aeneid

Running Down Boston

Ever since middle school, Anthony ran fast. When he reached his mid-50s, things got interesting.

“In 6th grade, I was second-fastest in our district in the 800 meters,” says Anthony, who qualified for Junior Olympics that year and finished in the top 20.

He earned a college scholarship to run cross-country, then transferred after his freshman year. Running took a backseat to basketball and weightlifting. Still, he won 200M and 400M intramural races on Hayward Field, Oregon’s iconic track.

After graduation, his running waxed and waned. “In my 30s and 40s, I dabbled in running as part of my overall fitness.”

Then the pandemic happened. Gyms closed. Social distancing became the norm. Running filled a void. “COVID really brought me back to running in my 50s.”

Data suggest that a marathon runner will slow down by 35 minutes as he ages from his 30s to 50s. Anthony flipped that trend—he got 32 minutes faster during that period.

He’s also running farther than ever. In his 30s and 40s, Anthony averaged 40 miles per training week. Today, he runs up to 70 miles.

LEARNING FROM DISAPPOINTMENT

In summer 2021, Anthony was on the verge of a coveted accomplishment, qualifying for the world-famous Boston Marathon.

“I went to Seattle to run the Tunnel Marathon, a downhill course that’s one of the fastest in the country. I was sure I would qualify for Boston,” he explains. “Instead, the day went horribly wrong. I ended up DNF’ing (Did Not Finish) for the first time ever.”

It was the “lowest point” in his running career.

Fortunately, it was short-lived. Two weeks later, he finished a marathon in Santa Rosa. Three months after that he finished another and qualified for Boston. Today, Anthony has two Boston Marathon finishes on his resumé.

“My DNF showed me that I needed to make some changes. I changed virtually everything and now, I’m setting PRs (personal records) regularly.”

Here are three important changes Anthony made to his lifestyle:

STRATEGIC TRAINING AND RECOVERING

“When I was young, I could just run. Now, I do about 20-30 minutes, four to five times per week, of targeted strength and mobility work on my hip flexors, hamstrings, Achilles, and core. My foam roller (nicknamed Rollie) is my best friend. Also, recovery is a priority. After a long run, I take an ice bath, use my compression boots, and take a nap.”

EATING LIKE AN ATHLETE

“I make green juice daily, I cut out processed foods, and I rarely drink alcohol. I also intermittent fast, meaning I don’t eat after 6 p.m.”

EMBRACING TECHNOLOGY

“As an older athlete there is nothing more important than monitoring and understanding your body. I use an Apple Watch and an Oura Ring to monitor my sleep, heart rate, and other metrics.” He runs in high-tech, carbon-plated Nike VaporFly shoes.

NO SLOWING DOWN

“Running brings me more joy now than ever,” he says. “My advice is be willing to change and don’t give up on your dream.”

Aging with Confidence summer 2023 | 3rd Act magazine 29
KEEP MOVING
Mike Harms is an author, personal trainer, and owner of Muscle & Hustle gym in Seattle.
Age Time (Hrs:Mins) 31 3:47 37 3:32 55 3:46 (2nd in his age group) 56 3:29
Anthony running at the USA Track & Field Masters 10-Mile Championships in Sacramento. Check out his marathon finish times over the years:

Take Back

So like many septuagenarians who have dealt with lower back issues for decades, but feared surgery, I tried addressing the pain and discomfort with a smorgasbord of less scary, less-invasive techniques.

Your Life

I started with exercise. I joined a gym and met with a trainer who suggested a couple of stretches and exercises especially designed for older people with back issues. I did them religiously and prayed for improvement, but after about a year my back didn’t feel any better. It wasn’t exactly an exercise in futility, but close.

It was time to try something else. My next step was to go to a much raved about chiropractor. Frankly, I’ve always been a bit leery about this popular pseudo-medical practice. It just seemed kind of bogus to me. Many people, however, will tell you it’s the best thing in the world and it changed their life. That’s all well and good, but after all the pushing, pulling, and popping, all it did for me was strain my bank account.

Next on the menu was physical therapy, aka PT. This approach seemed much more scientific and medically based than the voodoo-like aura of chiropractic care. I put my all into it, did what I was told to do, tried to be patient and, guess what, my back was still killing me. Enough with PT.

Having struck out three times already, I embarked on a five-year journey of pain management with a highly regarded specialist in this area. The first three years, I had annual lumbar facet bilateral injections. They were very effective and provided considerable relief. I was very pleased. For the first time in a long time, I actually felt

better. In year four, I graduated to annual transforaminal injections—three at a time for two more years. Sadly, these six jabs didn’t ease my pain at all. Another letdown and a return to constant pain. Oh well, I gave it a shot.

I was now 76 years old and had run out of the widely accepted options for treating back pain. Unfortunately, none of the courses of action had offered lasting relief and my back and leg pain had gotten much worse. I was using a cane. Standing was terribly uncomfortable, as was sitting and walking. Lying down wasn’t so great either. I knew I had to do something. And soon.

Having worked my way up the spinal pain relief food chain, I knew it was time to go to the next level. It was time to embrace the notion of surgery.

I read about it. I watched videos of various spinal operations and talked to people who had been through it. Based on what I learned, I decided to go for it. With my mind made up I underwent a series of examinations, x-rays, and MRIs. Upon evaluating the results, the neurosurgeon concluded that I had severe spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, arthritic bone spurs, and several pinched nerves. This diagnosis, she said, made me an excellent candidate for lower lumbar surgery.

Once all the tests and evaluations were complete, I found myself in the operating room in about two weeks. I ended up having what they call a laminectomy (four of them actually), a form of decompression surgery on my lower lumbar vertebrae. The surgery was a total success. Immediately, the pain in my legs was completely gone. I was up walking the night of the surgery and feeling pretty good. Hallelujah!

As I write this, it has been two months since my surgery. I am completely pain free. That’s right, pain free. I walk two miles a day and am feeling terrific. I couldn’t be happier about the entire experience.

Well, that’s my story. If it sounds familiar, I encourage you to meet with a neurosurgeon and give back surgery some serious thought. It just might be a life changer. It was for me. You’ve been through enough. Don’t let constant pain ruin your third act. Take back your life.

Aging with Confidence summer 2023 | 3rd Act magazine 31
The idea of back surgery has always scared the hell out of me. Just the thought of doctors wielding scalpels, saws, and other scary surgical tools in my lumbar spine area makes me apoplectic.
Larry Moss is a retired advertising creative director and jazz piano player. He recently published a memoir about how playing the piano played such an important role in his life.

Being Mortal

Aquiet, gentle death without ongoing medical interventions. That’s what Jimmy Carter and his family had in mind when, after a series of hospitalizations and with the support of his family and doctors, the 98-year-old former president said he would spend the rest of his life at home with hospice care. So now, along with his work for affordable housing, human rights, and mental health awareness, President Carter will be remembered as an advocate for knowing when to say “enough.”

you favor the balanced approach of palliative care, which centers comfort but can include continuing treatment? Or would you prefer to spend your last days (or weeks or months) in hospice care, which emphasizes comfort without the expectation of a cure?

Advance directives are the essential first step in preparing for care near the end of life. These documents spell out exactly what you’d like if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. Most people are familiar with “do not resuscitate” orders, but there are also directives that specify your wish to voluntarily stop eating and drinking as death nears. There are even documents that can be completed in the early stages of dementia to outline your wishes for your health care, finances, and personal relationships as you live into later stages of the disease.

The messages are clear: Planning is important. People’s Memorial Association urges Washingtonians to “Get Your Ducks in a Row.” End of Life Washington encourages people to be “End of Life Ready.” Rebecca Hudson, client services coordinator, says that while End of Life Washington is best known for its work in helping people access Washington’s Death with Dignity Act, “We are about choice in general. We are about making sure folks know all their options and are given the resources and support for whatever path they want to choose at the end of their life.”

That goes for people from all walks of life, she adds—not just educated upper middle-class folks. “We really want to make sure that everyone in Washington knows what their choices are, no matter what socioeconomic demographic they’re in … no matter if they have a concierge medicine doctor, or they get health care at a community clinic.”

How about you? Whether you face a slow decline or a sudden diagnosis, do you want to exhaust every possible option to extend your life? Would

You need to sign your advance directives before two witnesses (notar–ization is optional in Washington state) and file copies with your family, doctors, faith community, and preferred funeral

32 3rd Act magazine | summer 2023 www.3rdActMag.com
Planning for a graceful death is smart. Here’s how to get started.

provider. Hudson notes that it’s fine to complete whatever advance directives you can, even if you leave some parts blank. You can always change them later. “At least name a health care agent,” she says, and give that person a general idea of the extent of intervention you’d prefer.

Although advance directives provide great peace of mind, Washington is one of 11 states that go further via laws that allow people to request life-ending medication if they have less than six months to live. Patients must have the ability to make an informed decision and self-administer the medication. End of Life Washington helped 319 people exercise the right in 2022, and this spring, the Washington legislature acted to strengthen its original death with dignity law. Key changes include:

• A 15-day waiting period was reduced to seven days. With this change, fewer people will need to suffer longer as death nears—if, for example, they lose their ability to swallow.

• Prescriptions can now be made electronically, and medications may now be delivered via signature mail or courier. These changes will make access easier for rural patients.

• Previously, two doctors needed to approve a request for medical aid in dying. Now one of the two professionals can be an advanced registered nurse practitioner or a physician’s assistant, who often serve as the attending provider on many care teams.

Even in its new form, the law has gaps, especially for people with advancing dementia. This leaves Washington’s law short of that in Canada, where residents with dementia can, under some circumstances, receive medical assistance in dying, and where doctors are much more involved in the process. And access is tightening in Washington since about half of its health care systems

are affiliated with religious organizations that oppose medical aid in dying—and where doctors can’t even talk about it.

“I’m amazed at the number of oncologists who don’t even know it’s legal in this state,” says Dr. Roy Graves,

I saw how important it was for him.”

“I was an ER doc for 38 years,” Graves says. “I saw a lot of bad deaths, and in my experience, the people who are most interested in death with dignity are the ones who’ve experienced bad deaths within their own families. When you can’t control pain, these people are just miserable, just hoping they can die.” He notes that the laws in New Mexico and Oregon now require just a three-day wait—and even that can be waived if death is imminent, such as after a bad diagnosis in the ER.

a retired emergency room physician who volunteers with End of Life Washington. Another challenge is a proposed federal rule change that would bring back pre-pandemic restrictions to forbid physicians and hospice teams from prescribing comfort care and medical aid in dying drugs via telehealth. The overturning of Roe v. Wade may portend similar rollbacks for medical aid in dying.

Death with dignity is personal for Graves, whose own father chose the option last year at age 102 after metastatic disease, COVID, and diabetes ganged up on him, even though he was still living independently and still driving. But “it was getting to the point where he couldn’t walk, and he said, ’You know, I’m ready.’

“When you’re dying, you really lose the sense you have control over anything in your life,” Graves adds. “You become more and more dependent on everyone around you.” Death with dignity confers the possibility of options and control, of hope within a hopeless situation.

With that in mind, “these are conversations to start having now, with your loved ones and with your physicians,” says Hudson of End of Life Washington. “And find out: Is your doctor supportive of these choices?” If not, she adds, you may need to find a new doctor.

At its best, aging is about wisdom. While few of us want to think about final choices that may be years away, it’s wise—and kind, to ourselves and our loved ones—to weigh our options and express our wishes sooner rather than later.

Julie Fanselow is a writer and editor in Seattle.

Resources to Get Ready

End of Life Washington (endoflifewa.org) offers an extensive library of advance directive forms and offers online end-of-life ready webinars.

People’s Memorial Association (peoplesmemorial.org) holds regular “Ducks in a Row” presentations that cover end-of-life planning and funeral options.

Dignitas (dignitas.ch) is an international organization based in Switzerland that advocates for choice in end-of-life matters.

Dementia Action Collaborative funded by DSHS (dementiallegalplanning.org) offers free legal help in Washington state for health care directives, dementia directives, and powers of attorney.

Aging with Confidence summer 2023 | 3rd Act magazine 33
Advance directives are the essential first step in preparing for care near the end of life.

Living in a Multigenerational Setting Makes Life Better!

You’ve enjoyed time with people of all ages for your entire life so why stop now? Moving into a retirement community doesn’t have to limit your connection to kids and young adults!

Cristwood Park at CRISTA Senior Living in Shoreline offers a unique setting where residents are surrounded by kids and adults of all ages. Located on a beautiful 55-acre campus that also houses King’s Schools, CRISTA Media, and the headquarters for World Concern, Cristwood residents have many opportunities to build relationships with people from age 2 to 100.

After spending decades working at a high school, Patty chose to live at Cristwood Park so she could volunteer at King’s Schools. “After we got settled, I began attending every King’s game. I keep score and even ride the bus to away games,” Patty said.

“A few of the girls’ teams adopted me and we have a lot of fun. Cheering on the teams and

attending games gets me out of the house and keeps me active.”

Other seniors at Cristwood Park volunteer to help King’s DECA students prepare for competitions, build sets for theatrical productions, and help on the playground. They are invited to every concert and event at the school, and

students visit them to entertain, bring cards, and do crafts.

Walking the CRISTA grounds gives residents other opportunities to interact with CRISTA Ministries’ staff and many conversations lead to lasting friendships. Some choose to volunteer at the ministry headquarters and during fundraisers for the radio stations at CRISTA Media.

Living in close proximity to other age groups is a benefit for everyone. It is known to provide cognitive stimulation for seniors as well as keeping them in touch with current culture, filling a void for those without children and grandchildren nearby, encouraging an active lifestyle, reducing depression and isolation, giving them more energy, helping with technology and communication, and giving opportunities to mentor, which brings great sense of fulfillment during the later years of life.

At the end of the day, Cristwood Park residents get the luxury of returning to their apartments and taking a break from the younger generation. It’s a winwin situation for everyone!

CRISTA Senior Living is home to seniors 55 and older, with two campuses located in the Puget Sound and customized to suit your lifestyle. Cristwood, our Shoreline campus, is a Christian Life Plan Community, with apartment living options for independent lifestyles, to assisted living and memory care. Crista Shores, our Silverdale campus, offers apartment living options for an independent lifestyle and assisted living on the beautiful Dyes Inlet waterfront.

If you would like to speak to one of our senior living experts, please call us today at 206-546-7565, or visit cristaseniorliving.com.

34 3rd Act magazine | summer 2023 www.3rdActMag.com
SPONSORED CONTENT
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Photo: Erin Fisher

The Caregiver’s Journey

In Part 1 of this four-part series, you learned how to determine your loved one’s needs and your own as you prepare to be a caregiver. In Part 2, you’ll learn why taking care of yourself is essential to your role and how best to do it.

Part 2: Looking After Yourself

Doing the best you can for your loved one requires meeting your own needs, too.

While traveling on an airplane, have you ever wondered why, when demonstrating the use of emergency oxygen masks, flight attendants tell you to put on your own mask first before putting one on your child? That’s because it’s important for you to maintain your energy in order to then be able to help someone else.

The same thing goes for caregiving. For many people, taking care of a loved one might be a temporary, short-term situation, but for many others, it can last months or even years. While the responsibility of meeting your care recipient’s needs can be very emotionally and spiritually satisfying, coping with its ongoing challenges can be draining, both physically and mentally.

As a caregiver, how do you keep going?

Often caregivers don’t realize the gradual toll that performing various responsibilities over time are taking on their body and mind. They may not be aware of just how tired and possibly burned out they are becoming. Fortunately, there are many great ways to actively nurture yourself. In order to

do this, the first step is to be aware of the cumulative signs of ongoing strain.

The Three Stages

1. Caregiver stress. Of course, caregiving can be stressful, particularly because you need to handle any unexpected changes in your loved one’s condition, or overcome obstacles that can arise when you lack family or other support, deal with medical and/or insurance bills, try to remain productive at work, and seek time to relax and socialize.

The hormones and other chemicals your body produces during ongoing stress can affect your mental and physical health. Some mental signs of caregiver stress are poor concentration, forgetfulness, frustration, irritation, and anger. Stress-induced physical symptoms include fatigue, poor sleep, nighttime teeth gnashing, high blood pressure, heart fluttering or skipped beats, headaches, body pains, and indigestion.

2. Burnout. If caregiver stress goes unaddressed and unrelieved, it can turn into burnout, which is characterized by a change of attitude toward the role of caring itself. People who feel caregiver stress still believe they can be effective

Part 1: Preparing for Caring

Part 2: Looking After Yourself

Part 3: Getting Extra Help

Part 4: When Caregiving Ends

helpers, but burned out caregivers tend to lose faith in that effectiveness and may become cynical, resentful, apathetic, and even depressed. They may begin to withdraw from family and friends, procrastinate, or be neglectful in completing home or work tasks, rely on unhealthy habits (smoking, alcohol/ drug abuse), and experience a loss of libido.

3. Compassion fatigue. This last and most extreme stage is marked by taking negative attitudes of hopelessness, frustration, impatience, or anger and redirecting them toward the person who is receiving the care. This is the last thing that loving, devoted caregivers ever expect to do.

While these stages paint a dark picture of providing care, there’s very good news: You don’t have to go through any of them. Instead, by adopting the following important, effective strategies, you can maintain your physical and emotional energy, thus ensuring that the caregiving experience for you and your loved one is a smooth, rewarding one.

Self-Care Strategies

Look after your own health. Be mindful

36
{ A FOUR-PART SERIES }

of eating healthy foods, exercising, and getting enough sleep. If you start to feel any of the physical or mental symptoms of caregiver stress, burnout, or compassion fatigue, seek help from your doctor, therapist, or other health care provider as soon as possible. Don’t be reluctant to “put on your own oxygen mask.” Remember, you’re doing it to be a better caregiver.

Prioritize tasks and the time you spend on them. Caregiving is not the time to focus on being perfect at everything you do. Go easy on yourself, refrain from feeling guilty, do the best you can, and save your energy and enthusiasm for your loved one.

Let technology work for you. Depending on your needs, and with your care recipient’s permission, consider using in-home or wearable devices that track activity, offer virtual/ audio reminders to take medications, or alert others of a medical emergency. These can be especially valuable in long-distance caregiving.

Ask for—and accept—help. Too often, caregivers feel they must do everything themselves instead of reaching out to share some of the responsibility with others. Believing in this is a big mistake, for a couple of reasons. For one thing, there is probably a task that a family member, friend, or neighbor can do better or more quickly than you can in your current situation (particularly if you’re a long-distance caregiver). Also, the people around you might be looking to contribute in some way, and involving them can be a gift to them as well as to yourself.

When requesting help, be specific. If someone asks, “Is there anything I can do for you?” state a particular task, either for your loved one (“Can you pick up the medicine that is ready at the

pharmacy?”) or for yourself (“Could you collect my mail?” “Would you walk my dog?”). If you don’t have the energy or even the presence of mind to think about what you need, ask others for their own specific ideas of how they can aid you.

If at all possible, take occasional breaks from caregiving. It helps to have alone time, a change of scene, and/ or a brief return to a favorite activity (reading, doing a hobby or sport, etc.). In fact, asking someone to sit with your loved one for a couple of hours can be a fitting request for help. Depending on your finances, using professional respite-care services can also help.

Stay connected with others. This can be a real challenge, especially since social isolation is often one of the first effects of intensive, long-term caregiving, in which it becomes more difficult to meet friends for dinner or attend a party. But you can maintain connection in other ways, such as by scheduling a daily or weekly “checkin” phone call or in-person visit. You can even combine socializing and exercising by walking regularly with someone who is a supportive listener, and someone who can make you laugh!

Share your experience with other caregivers. Consider joining a caregiver support group in your area.

Want to Know More?

You might learn innovative ideas, be acknowledged for handling your situation, and perhaps even make new friends.

As a loving and responsible caregiver, your heart is clearly in your work. All you may need are concrete, effective ways to engage your brain in the ongoing problem-solving required of anyone in that very important role.

Speaking of the heart, here’s a question to answer: As each heartbeat moves oxygenated blood out of the chambers of your heart, what’s the first organ that this blood feeds? No, it’s not your lungs, or your brain, or any other organ. It’s the heart itself, through the vessels that surround it. On a purely physiological level, even your heart knows that it will be of no help to the rest of your body if it loses its own capacity to function.

Therefore, follow your heart by caring for yourself as you care for another, and you’ll succeed in staying strong and capable for the one you love.

Jeanette Leardi is a Portland-based social gerontologist, writer, editor, and community educator who has a passion for older adult empowerment. A former caregiver to her late parents for more than a decade, she now gives popular presentations and workshops in journaling, memoir writing, ethical will creation, brain fitness, creativity, and ageism, intergenerational communication,

Check out these resources for more tips, strategies, and support:

• Caregiver Action Network’s Caregiver Help Desk: www.caregiveraction.org/helpdesk

• Eldercare Locator: eldercare.acl.gov/Public/Index.aspx

• National Respite Network and Resource Center (ARCH): www.archrespite.org/us-map

• Washington Association of Area Agencies on Aging: www.agingwashington.org/

Shedding Society’s Image of What “Good” Skincare Looks Like for Older Women

Everyone ages. And when this happens, wrinkles, lines, and deep folds can develop on our faces. Skin can become loose, sagging, dry, and discolored. Biological aging is primarily responsible, but lifestyle matters. Too much time in the sun, smoking, lack of exercise, unhealthy eating habits, and stressful lifestyles are wellknown culprits.

As much as these physical changes occur for both women and men, women are often the main societal target for judgment and assessment of “how well they are aging.”

Not surprisingly, the multibillion-dollar global skincare industry then targets women as consumers of their products and services. All kinds of solutions are out there, and product awareness and availability are growing.

Today, women can select from a vast array of anti-wrinkle, firming, and skin tone creams and lotions—moisturizers, exfoliators, and depigmenting products. More aggressive solutions include skin procedures such as Botox injections, dermal filler treatments, microdermabrasion, chemical peels, laser therapy treatments, and cosmetic surgeries (e.g., facelifts).

So how do women feel about their aging faces?

• Do you feel inferior—and even invisible and marginalized— because others may consider you unattractive?

• Should you guiltlessly use anti-aging products to turn back the clock and feel thankful you have so many skincare options?

• Or do you only employ these skin care solutions because of social pressures to look younger?

• Should you even worr y about losing your youthful physical appearance? Instead, should you view your aging skin positively— as a measure of maturity and wisdom, and ignore what others think?

There is definitely no shortage of opinions.

Unlike other body changes, our face is always on display. Possibly even more telling—how we feel and behave with our wrinkles and lines can also reveal our views and acceptance of aging.

One thing we have learned from human history is that beauty standards are highly subjective and hotly debated. But I believe the good news is that women can age optimally, irrespective of whether you reject or embrace these skincare solutions. This is unquestionably a case of there being no right or wrong answer.

Stephen M. Golant, PhD, is a leading national speaker, author, and researcher on the housing, mobility, transportation, and long-term care needs of older adult populations. He is a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, a Fulbright Senior Scholar award recipient, and a Professor at the University of Florida. Golant’s latest book is Aging in The Right Place, published by Health Professions Press. You can contact him at golant@ufl.edu

This article was originally published on Booming Encore and has been republished with permission.

To attempt an understanding of the differences in how women may view the aging changes to their facial appearance, I have developed three different profiles. I don’t believe that you will necessarily embody only a single profile. Depending on your life situation and changing experiences, you may actually find yourself moving between them.

The Naturalists

Naturalists view their aging faces as a natural outcome of getting old. They reject the notion that younger-looking skin should be

38 3rd Act magazine | summer 2023 www.3rdActMag.com

the standard to judge beauty or desirability. They bemoan living in an ageist society that celebrates youth and simplistically equates getting old with declines and losses.

Their looks do not prevent them from living a healthy, confident, and active lifestyle.

They proudly display their wrinkles as a badge of honor. Their wrinkles communicate experience, accomplishments, and wisdom. In one woman’s words, “the young should see the lines and aging on someone’s face as a marker of the life they’ve been lucky to live.”

Consequently, they have little motivation to do anything to counter their changed looks. They are the most unlikely consumers of skincare products and procedures. Fueling their decision is recognizing that older men are seldom expected to display a youthful appearance.

The Modifiers

The women in this second group hold a different view. Perceiving their older faces as less attractive, they strive to mask or alter the physical signs of aging.

Most will rely on more moderate measures—creams, lotions, and less-invasive skin procedures. Looking as they did in their 20s is typically not their goal. They don’t seek to reverse the aging process, but, at the same time, they want to look their best.

A smaller share will more vigorously attack their perceived facial imperfections. To regain their once youthful appearance, they will embrace anti-aging solutions, such as cosmetic surgery procedures like facelifts.

All the women in this group generally feel that “bad” skin makes them appear sad, angry, tired,

or depressed. But inside, they feel the opposite—happy, good, energetic, and sure of themselves. “They want things to match.” As expressed by one prominent 80-year-old New Yorker:

“It’s how you feel about yourself, and that’s really what it is. I know I look well and that makes me happy. And I know that I can face the world like I did when I was 30 or 40 or 50.… I don’t try to look young, and I don’t want to look young,” she said. “I want to look terrific.”

For people like her, the reasons for using skincare solutions are straightforward:

• To improve self-confidence and self-esteem

• To feel more attractive

• To look and feel healthier

• To look like you care

• To make it easier to face the day

These women also embrace these solutions because they strive to maintain self-continuity.

Throughout their adult lives, they have relied on cosmetics to improve their appearance and feel beautiful. How they think about themselves does not suddenly change after reaching a particular chronological age.

They are products of their past behaviors, beliefs, and memories. The older woman lamenting how she now doesn’t feel that different from her earlier self and doesn’t want to feel different in her future exemplifies these sentiments. Now their facial care regimens keep this continuity intact.

Aging with Confidence summer 2023 | 3rd Act magazine 39
The Naturalists view their aging faces as a natural outcome of getting old.
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There are spillover effects for this approach. People enjoy better physical health and even greater longevity when we feel good about ourselves. In contrast, when we hold negative beliefs about our aging selves—as when we don’t like our looks— we confront an increased risk of bad outcomes, such as hopelessness, depression, dementia, frailty, stroke, and heart disease.

Of course, these women are not immune from the powerful marketing influences of the skincare industry. But they are not unthinking and easily persuaded consumers.

Over their lifetimes, they have “seen and heard it all.” They are the most educated, proactive, self-reliant, health-conscious, work-savvy, and entrepreneurial generation of older women in history.

Unlike their mothers, they are more “fashion and appearance conscious.” Consequently, their purchasing decisions reflect their personal choices about changing their appearance.

Higher educational attainment is especially crucial because it positively correlates with older women’s beliefs that they have more control over their bodies. Possessing this sense of agency, they feel capable of tackling adversity and influencing the quality of their lives.

Consequently, they don’t view the cosmetic industry as a capitalistic enemy profiting from their fears of becoming old. Why should they? Their solutions help them to compensate for and deal with age-related changes.

The Conformists

Like the Naturalists, women in the Conformists group believe that their aging faces are a natural outcome of a successful past life. They are fine with their looks. But they are also acutely aware of their society’s ageist attitudes and behaviors—that portray older people as undesirable because they believe they are less physically attractive than the young.

They resent these views and could do without the self-serving messaging of the skincare industry. But to be dismissive like the Naturalists is not in their best interests.

They need and want to function in this youth-oriented world. They are still in the workforce or seeking employment. They seek to enjoy active, healthy, and visible lifestyles. They may be interested in new romantic relationships. Others strive to remain physically attractive to their partners.

In all these pursuits, appearance matters—especially to those who can influence their welfare.

Consequently, the skincare solutions adopted by the Conformists mimic those of the Modifiers. However, there is a difference. Their actions are less of their own volition.

Even as they feel in control over most aspects of their lives, social pressures compel them to “fix” their aging faces. This is true for even the most powerful women. Witness wellknown older female celebrities who have cosmetic surgeries to maintain popularity.

The reasoning behind their decision-making is not remarkable. The women in this Conformists group are not muckrakers. They cannot singlehandedly effect change and must selectively pick their battles. Taking a stand against societal expectations that dictate how they should look in their older years is low on their bucket list.

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The Modifiers strive to mask or alter the physical signs of aging.

All Three Groups of Women Are Aging Optimally

It might seem surprising to argue that all the women in these three groups are success stories. But, in fact, they are all aging optimally. To understand this conclusion, we must clarify the meaning of this term.

Aging individuals often cannot avoid unfortunate assaults on their bodies. These make it difficult to perform everyday physical, social, or intellectual activities, saddle us with difficult-to-manage chronic health problems, or make us feel less attractive. Those who age optimally, however, do not passively accept these changes—they do not let them define who they are.

Instead, they may de-emphasize how these changes influence the conduct of their lives. Alternatively, they try to alleviate their effects. They select new pursuits or goals that are both desirable and attainable despite their limitations. They then change their behaviors and lifestyles to optimize their physical and mental capabilities, social relationships, and productivity. They strive for positive emotional experiences that are meaningful and fulfilling. This is what aging optimally is all about.

Each of the three groups of women chooses different roads to this end. There is no one correct pathway to aging optimally.

The Naturalists appraise their aging faces as unimportant and unlikely to disrupt their goals, lifestyles, and healthy aging. They are happy with who they are and do not need cosmetic fixes.

The Modifiers interpret their facial changes as antagonistic to feeling and performing at their peak selves. They embrace skincare solutions to feel their best as they have done throughout their lives.

And the Conformists, like the Naturalists, also do not feel troubled by their aging skin. But they cannot ignore those social pressures demanding they look younger. To age optimally— achieve their goals and pursuits—they must take advantage of skincare solutions.

The fact that all these women are aging optimally should give us pause. It warns against singling out a particular group for criticism.

Unfortunately, this condemnation is happening now.

The Modifiers and the Conformists are targeted because they camouflage the aging of their faces by using skincare products and procedures. Yet, those making these unfair and discriminatory judgments are exhibiting ageist behaviors themselves. They are shaming a subgroup of older persons because of how they choose to manage their lives.

Closing Thoughts

How women choose to age and the societal judgments that are often associated with this will not be going away anytime soon. Over the next 20 years, aging boomers—dominated by women who live longer—will become more visible worldwide.

How we perceive our faces will be a telling barometer of how we feel about getting old. And how we respond to our changing appearance will influence our ability to age optimally.

Cosmetic companies and dermatologists take note. Women are actively making choices about how they choose to age, so how you represent and market your skincare solutions will be much more highly scrutinized and not so easily sold.

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The Conformists believe that their aging faces are a natural outcome of a successful past life.

Simone de Beauvoir Recommends We Fight for Ourselves as We Age

In her 60s, Beauvoir wrote a 650-page book La Vieillesse (1970)—translated as Old Age or The Coming of Age—to reveal the truth about ageing. She argues that ageing isn’t only a biological decline—society crushes ageing bodies through ageist discrimination. And yet, Beauvoir noted, elderhood also has the potential to bring us closer to authenticity than at any other stage of life. For her, being authentic means becoming creators of our vibrant selves, shaped through our choices. But older people face myriad challenges—many of them inescapable—that warp their choices and deter them from stretching toward authenticity.

For Beauvoir, the existential question lurking underneath the crisis of old age is, “Can I have become a different being while I still remain myself?” In other words, who is this person that I am becoming who appears to be me, but who seems to be someone else, too?

One of the reasons people face this crisis as they age is the tendency to treat old age as a “normal abnormality.” Elderhood is normal because, unless one dies young, ageing is humanity’s universal destiny. But elderhood is also an abnormality because older people are often assumed to be no longer properly functioning and capable humans. Ageism classifies older people as stagnant and powerless as time drags them toward their graves. Ageism, Beauvoir argues, is a travesty because, especially in capitalist societies where people are valued by their profitability, older people’s capabilities are undervalued and underappreciated, which oppresses and dehumanizes them. Beauvoir writes, “Society inflicts so wretched a standard of living upon the vast majority of old people that it is almost tautological to say, ‘old and poor.’”

Some adapt to their ageing so well that they barely notice it. Beauvoir points to the philosopher Lou AndreasSalomé as one who didn’t notice she was ageing until she was in her 60s and her hair started to fall out. Some have the money and resources to cushion themselves against

the hardships of elderhood, especially when it comes to accessing technology that can extend and enhance ageing bodies, or living in a state of such comfort that allows them to continue gliding seamlessly through life.

But, for most, elderhood grinds away at the possibility of achieving goals and completing projects. It brings loneliness when friends and family die. It often wipes out financial stability, as well as physical and sensory mobility. The likelihood of physical illness and pain intensifies, too. And growing older triggers an identity crisis. Beauvoir writes, “Nothing should be more expected than old age: nothing is more unforeseen.” While death is a possibility at any age, old age can seem so far off into the future that, by the time we realize it’s happening to us, it comes as a shattering blow.

Another reason for the identity crisis of elderhood, according to Beauvoir, is that our ageing is a situation that exists outside of us. We are old for others because there is a disconnect between how we feel inwardly and the ungraspable, judgmental gazes of other people. Beauvoir reflects:

“A Frenchwoman, a writer, a person of 60: This is my situation as I live it. But in the surrounding world this situation exists as an objective form, one that escapes me.”

When people started telling her that she reminded them of their mother, Beauvoir felt this dissonance agonizingly.

A common cliché is that you are only as old as you feel, but that is oversimplifying. Certainly, we make our own choices about who we become, but we are also defined from the outside—by other people, societies, and situations that surround us. We can discover some aspects of our being by looking in the mirror and introspection, but there is a dimension that only others can see, and which remains, for each of us, unrealizable.

Being defined by others isn’t a problem in itself. We coexist with other people, and we come to know ourselves more intimately through our interactions with them. But the problem is when other people’s gazes define us to the extent that we lose the ability to define ourselves. Those gazes can become so harsh and omnipresent that they lock elders into a category of “old,” constraining their ability to create themselves in authentic ways. This attitude is conveyed in the assumption that old people can’t learn new tricks, which is false. Beauvoir writes of ageing, “In no other aspect of life does the indecency of the culture we have inherited show itself more nakedly.”

Not all cultures have been ageist. Many societies have revered elders, seeing them as wiser, more virtuous, or (CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE)

Aging with Confidence summer 2023 | 3rd Act magazine 43
Elderhood is what the French existential philosopher and writer Simone de Beauvoir called the “crusher” of humankind. Experiences of growing older vary radically, but lies and silencing can turn elderhood into a shameful and frightening calamity, even as medical and biotechnologies are increasing health and life spans.

closer to holiness. Respect for elders (filial piety) is a virtue in Confucianism. Cicero likens old age to piloting a ship— younger people may be climbing masts and pulling ropes, but the captain’s sagacity is as vital for navigating life as for navigating a boat. In Victor Hugo’s poem “Boaz Asleep” (185983), with old age comes greatness. Maybe the eyes of young men burn with fire, but Boaz’s octogenarian eyes sparkle with clarity—and sexiness. At Boaz’s feet lies a woman named Ruth, topless, apparently sent by God.

Most societies have revered male elders and vilified female elders. Consider Amy Schumer’s “Last F**kable Day” (2015) skit where she stumbles across the fellow comedian Julia Louis-Dreyfus celebrating that she has reached an age where the media will no longer portray her as sexually attractive. Given the dispiriting gaze toward older women (especially if underprivileged), it’s no wonder that many people internalize ageism. Beauvoir did.

When Beauvoir was 30 years old, she thought that older women should not have sex lives: “I loathed what I called ‘harridans’ and promised myself that when I reached that stage, I would dutifully retire to the shelf.” Aged 39, Beauvoir indeed objectified herself enough to try to retire her sexualized body. But when a younger man, Claude Lanzmann, propositioned her, she was shocked to discover she was still a passionate and desirable being.

Still, as Beauvoir grew older, she wanted to smash her mirrors like the Countess of Castiglione. The countess, a 19th-century Italian model and photographic artist, banned mirrors and darkened her house so she could not bear witness to her atrophying youth and beauty. In her 50s, Beauvoir would catch her reflection and lament her drooping eyebrows, the bags growing under her eyes, and, she said, “that air of sadness around the mouth that wrinkles always bring.”

There are many ways people attempt to deny their ageing. One strategy is to preserve youth in the stories we tell. One of the reasons that older people like talking about their past,

Beauvoir speculates, is because they are trying to keep alive the legend of themselves, cementing themselves as the person they once were in relationships they once had. Beauvoir did this too.

She spent a lot of time writing memoirs in an attempt to resuscitate her fading memories. But according to her philosophy, wallowing in the past at the expense of the present and future is inauthentic because it’s an attempt to ossify our being into something that it was, instead of acknowledging ourselves as forever stretching and dynamically becoming into the future. Nevertheless, Beauvoir wasn’t entirely caught in this trap because although she did focus on her past, her memoirs acted as a portal to transcend and immortalize herself as a writer.

Another avoidance strategy is delaying the inevitable physical regression by physically cementing our flesh in its youthful state, such as through cosmetic surgery. Of the woman who laments ageing, Beauvoir writes, “[S]he witnesses, powerless, the degradation of this object of flesh with which she is one; she fights; but dyes, peeling, and plastic surgery can never do more than prolong her dying youth.”

To become authentic, in Beauvoir’s view, is to create ourselves through our own choices. In theory, there should be no problem with transcending the facts of our bodies toward new possibilities and futures. And shouldn’t we support one another in making whatever choices we choose for our own appearances?

Ideally, yes. It’s authentic to respect our ageing bodies by staying active and healthy. But mutilating our skin and body to avoid reality is inauthentic. Preserving oneself with cosmetic procedures is submitting to ageist and sexist gazes that tell us young is good, old is bad.

Classism infects anti-ageing practices too. Such procedures are available only to those who have hundreds of dollars to spend monthly, if not weekly. And when some freeze their faces, it harms others who don’t, or can’t afford to, because they look older in comparison. She with the most money (I say

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Beauvoir argues that ageing isn’t only a biological decline— society crushes ageing bodies through ageist discrimination.

“she” because women account for the vast majority of cosmetic surgery spending) will be most able to protect themselves against ageist and sexist blows as they entrench discrimination for lessprivileged women. The masks that some people put on to escape their age are a form of disguise that becomes exponentially obvious and costly to maintain, and distracts us from the real work of combating ageism.

“Nudity begins with the face,” writes Beauvoir in her novel The Mandarins (1954), suggesting that to reveal our faces—not only to bear our wrinkles, but to be proud of them—is a form of vulnerability. Natural faces, and indeed natural bodies, should not be objects of shame.

But it is shameful that older bodies are discriminated against to such an extent that so many feel compelled to attempt to escape them. Beauvoir was well aware that the mortifying weight of ageist gazes overwhelms and punishes people, especially women, such as through employment discrimination, and acknowledges that “Whether we like it or not, in the end we submit to the outsider’s point of view.”

How do we then overcome the “identification crisis” of old age? We must stop inauthentic strategies of clinging to our past selves and, Beauvoir writes, “we must unreservedly accept a new image of ourselves.” Ageing authentically calls for us to shift our attitudes and recognize that becoming older is a fact of our condition, our normal fate, and a stage of life not radically different to adulthood. Beauvoir saw elderhood as “possessing its own balance and leaving a wide range of possibilities open to the individual.”

As death looms ever nearer, it takes effort to persevere and engage in life with zeal, to overcome apathy and listlessness, and to keep oneself afloat amid melancholia and lonesomeness. It takes strength shamelessly to love and accept our own and others’ ageing bodies. Elderhood’s challenges can improve when we embrace taking care of ourselves through exercise, for example, as well as technologies that extend and enhance health spans, cure illnesses, and relieve pain—and not only for the wealthiest in society.

Elderhood does have hidden strengths—experience, wisdom, and deeper self-understanding. Because people are closer to the end of their becoming, elderhood is the stage where we find ourselves closest to fulfilment or, as Beauvoir describes it, “that fullness of being at which life so vainly aims.” As we grow up, many of us are overly concerned with building our reputation and cultivating the impressions we leave with others. Elderhood frees us from this slog. It is an opportunity to turn to ourselves, to be more responsive to our own needs, and less obliged to other people. According to Beauvoir:

“The sweeping away of fetishes and illusions is the truest, most worthwhile of all the contributions brought by age … The truth of the human state is accomplished only at the end of our own becoming.”

This is why, she writes, “There is only one solution if old age is not to be an absurd parody of our former life, and that is to go on pursuing ends that give our existence a meaning—devotion to individuals, to groups or to causes, social, political, intellectual, or creative work.”

Later in her life, Beauvoir produced fewer written pieces, but she threw herself into political activism, supported other writers, and worked on reaching new audiences for her work, such as with a screen adaptation of her book, The Woman Destroyed (1967).

Old age, for Beauvoir, should be celebrated, but to have something to celebrate, we must keep working toward a better world, one free from ageism, so that all are free to create themselves in authentic ways, and where no one has to exist as a living corpse. After all, survival can be worse than death. Beauvoir urges us to face up to ageing with honesty and bravery:

“We must stop cheating. The whole meaning of our life is in question in the future that is waiting for us. If we do not know what we are going to be, we cannot know what we are … it is harder to adopt than falsehood, but, once reached, it cannot but bring happiness.”

Skye C. Cleary is the author of How to Be Authentic: Simone de Beauvoir and the Quest for Fulfillment (2022) and Existentialism and Romantic Love (2015), and co-editor of How to Live a Good Life (2020). She teaches at Columbia University, Barnard College, and the City University of New York. This “idea” was originally published on Psyche (psyche.co).

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To become authentic, in Beauvoir’s view, is to create ourselves through our own choices.

5FEET OF GOOD

Given the world’s enormous challenges, it’s easy to feel small and wonder, “What can I do to make a difference when my energy and mobility aren’t what they used to be?” I can’t even think about going on a long, slow march for justice on a cold winter day without my back starting to twitch. Yet, when I read about another shooting or I hear hate speech spewing over the airways, I feel like I have to act. Fortunately, I can, starting within the world five feet from where I am.

I adapted the idea of five feet of good from the words of David Spangler, a friend and spiritual teacher who works through the Lorian Association in Issaquah, Washington. Spangler offers “the five-foot rule” to encourage us to work within the sphere of energy closest to us and then influence the world from there. Inspired by his idea, I started noticing all the ways I could support change, in both practical and subtle, energetic ways, even if confined to my chair. During the last election cycle, whenever I heard friends say, “All I can do is write checks,” I thought, “That’s good— but there’s so much more you can do from right where you are.”

One of my favorite role models

there.

for elder activism is my friend Anne Stadler from Lake Forest Park near Seattle. Since she was a teen, she has worked for peace and justice, and to support and build thriving communities. And she’s not stopping that work now, although, at 92, she has to watch her steps, care for her energy, and avoid driving in Seattle’s miserable downtown traffic. When I asked Stadler, “What’s changed with your activism after 90?” she replied, “Nothing.” She clarified, “I’m still doing what I’ve always done.”

Observing her filled me with ideas about what we could all do to support change within five feet of our chairs.

Connecting

Stadler has always been a connector to whom people are drawn toward because she listens, cares about what they are doing, and almost always sends them off with a list of “who you should know.” “Because I stay in touch with people,” she says, “I can connect them.”

As people share with her about

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Learning to work within the sphere of energy closest to you and influence the world from

their activities over the phone or via Zoom, Stadler learns what’s happening in the community and gains information to pass along to others. Friendships, actions, and organizations have been born from her connections. When she tells me, “You have to meet Peter (or Audrey or Alice),” I’m right on it. Staying connected to our communities as we age helps us feel less distant from the change efforts around us.

Mentoring

Stadler doesn’t like the word mentoring because it evokes for her the picture of the wise elder “bestowing” information on others. I still call what she does mentoring, in the best sense of the word, the kind of mentoring that is a two-way street—you learn as much or more than you give. Her mentoring has helped many to amplify their impact in the community.

We may not feel like working on the frontlines anymore, but through mentoring, we can support those who are—our friends, grandchildren, and others in the community. Our listening is still a powerful tool for change.

Influencing

You don’t have to speak to thousands to have an influence. Your Aunt Mabel and Cousin Charley trust you. Perhaps you, in a kind way, can nudge them to question the source of their conspiracy information. Or open the door a tiny crack to another point of view. We influence the people who trust us. Love can even jump party lines if we take the time to listen to opposing viewpoints, and then offer our thinking without imposing it. Realistically, Aunt Mabel may not be ready to question what she heard from her favorite pundit but remember, it took years for the Berlin Wall to come down. And you can

always use your influence to share questions and information with those whose views are closer to yours.

In addition to these concrete actions, you can support change from the inside out from a place that is both deeply personal and energetic:

Writing

You don’t need to write a book or Huffington Post article to share your thoughts with the world. The local press will welcome your Letter to the Editor or an Op-Ed piece. Or you can write your position on an issue in a thoughtful email to your circle of colleagues. I’m often informed by friends who take the time to research topics and share their results.

Beginning with ourselves

It’s not difficult to decry issues such as racism, ageism, or homelessness. It’s harder to do the work to see where white privilege and false concepts about the elderly and unhomed live in us. But as I do so while sitting in my five-foot space, I have a more powerful place to stand in talking about social injustice.

Sharing joy, kindness, and delight

We influen ce through the energy we project. Ever been in the presence of someone who brightens you up? True joy is uplifting—and don’t we all need that? Kindness is way more contagious than COVID—and a great antidote to cynicism. And delight is equally infectious. When you love what you are doing and share about it, you help counter the depletion many of us are experiencing in our lives. Joy, kindness, and delight radiate to others with a hopefulness that makes the challenging work of change possible. Yes, the climate is in peril. Yet, it still matters that we adore attending our watercolor class, walking with friends, or arranging a rose in a vase.

Staying calm

The media world stokes our national agitation. While we urgently need to address climate issues, too much anxiety can leave us spinning and unable to act. Calmness always helps, especially in an emergency. By staying calm, we can steady and support others. The Vietnamese Buddhist priest Thich Nhat Hanh frequently told stories about what happened when the Vietnamese refugee boats met storms or pirates. “If the people on board panicked, all would be lost. If even one person on the boat stayed calm, it was enough. It showed the way for everyone to survive.”

Sending good thoughts and prayers

We don’t have to become certified energy healers to send good thoughts, blessings, and prayers into the world. Prayers for peace are a part of many great traditions. Researchers have documented how healing thoughts can impact others—even thousands of miles away from the sender.

We can send our good energy toward change leaders we admire, friends in need, and others doing good work. Will our thoughts change the world? We may never know, but spending a few minutes sending out loving support for peace, justice, and what we care about will likely change us.

That’s where it all begins. With each of us. And the amazing potency we have to change ourselves and influence the world as we activate our five feet of good.

Aging with Confidence summer 2023 | 3rd Act magazine 47
Sally Fox, PhD, is a life transitions and creativity coach, and author of Meeting the Muse after Midlife: A Journey Towards Joy, Creativity, and Meaning , to be published this summer. You can find her at www.engagingpresence.com.

Remembering Is What We Bring: An Old Man Recalls An Old Friend

“What brings you all here?” asked the librarian who ran the library’s Death Café.

As I gave that some thought, the woman beside me, who earlier flashed me her fellow geriatric’s smile of recognition, announced firmly, “The thinning of the ranks.”

It was like being jabbed with an electric prod. I’d experienced so much rank-thinning in recent years. My thoughts turned immediately to Alan Solomonow, the peace activist who died during COVID’s long season of dying (Parkinson’s took him.) We became friends in the early 80s around a notorious dispute: Israel-Palestine.

years—thought it wise for people to learn about PLO thinking from the PLO itself. I worked for him as keeper and regulator of his files that seemed to have no beginning and no end. A mystical amalgam of paper that sometimes seemed to rise up in waves from the floorboards of a crumbling lower Manhattan building, which housed the MEPP.

We were both young, and as children of the 60s felt it was forbidden to grow old. Now in my 80s, part of me still adheres to that ridiculous dictum. The same part that refuses to make peace with the reality that old friends die, and with them, parts of ourselves that were young.

Solomonow would speak about peace and the path to peace at public gatherings. He’d respond to derision with kind smiles and hard facts. Previously an inmate at Allenwood Federal Prison, he was incarcerated for 13 months for publicly burning his draft card in protest of the Vietnam War. When I got to know him, he was roguishly involved as a back channel bringing together Jewish leaders in America with Palestinian activists in Israel and occupied territories.

During the 70s and early 80s, when many still saw the territories as bargaining chips to be exchanged for peace, liberal rabbis would flock to Solomonow like so many Nicodemuses in the night wanting to meet with Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) moderates without wanting it to be known in their communities, fearing rebuke or outright ostracism.

Solomonow, founder of the Middle East Peace Project (MEPP)—he had his fingers in any number of peace pies over the

“At the end of the day,” my peacemaker friend would say, visualizing the end of shed blood and shared terror, “there will be two states, Israeli and Palestinian. There is no other viable solution.” Israel’s accelerated occupation and rightwing drift has rendered that solution all but unworkable now. A disheartening prospect to Solomonow in his final years. (He was 81 when he died.)

When I raised questions about Israel’s reliance on power to set policy, Solomonow would gently reply, “But Bob, what if the necessary guarantees for peace were put in place, enforced? Couldn’t you live with that?”

That was his approach: What can you live with rather than what can you die for. A question, with modifications more relevant to me now than then: What, as an old man, with time shortening like an asthmatic’s breath, can I live for before death takes me, as it took him?

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Solomonow lived for reconciliation between all people. Unable to match up to that, I spin words and do my best. In no way a devout Jew, he based his Gandhian activism on the words of the prophet Isaiah: Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. It was his equivalent of the Jesus Prayer of that nameless Russian pilgrim who made those words his life.

Sometimes, while I was sorting articles from worldwide journals (far from the ethereal pleasures of writing haiku in my old age!), the phone would ring, and the person on the other end would hang up. Solomonow would peek quickly out the window to check if there was anyone down below. Satisfied there wasn’t, he’d take a swig of whiskey from the bottle in his drawer, and get on with his day. I could never tell whether it was a gesture of self-mockery or self-congratulatory heroism.

Our relationship changed in the early 80s, when the Quakers of Northern California liberated him from his money-raising indignities on behalf of the MEPP, and put him to work as Middle East Program Coordinator of the American Friends Service Committee. We would try to meet whenever he returned to New York for visits. Talking about the conflict, there was the companionable feeling of going back in time, as the occupation didn’t change. Even the cast of characters remained more or less the same, along with their basic arguments. Did we change? I wished we had spoken more about change in ourselves than its absence in Israel-Palestine. We’d known each for so long. I knew he had colon cancer. He knew I cared for a mother with Alzheimer’s.

He spoke of leading tours of Jews and Christians to the Middle East, where they could meet and dialogue with Palestinian and Israeli peace activists. In looking for common ground for both sides to build peace on, he was, according to Quaker co-worker Wilson Riles, “attacked by people on both sides, which really hurt him.”

The peacemaker’s fate, one might say. My friend tried not to make much of it. But the subject had a way of coming up. Once a group of us were recalling the days he brought Palestinian activists to the U.S. to hold dialogues at synagogues, churches, college campuses. Among them was Raymonda Tawil, journalist and future motherin-law of Yasser Arafat.

A colleague recalled: “Didn’t she call you ’naïve’ in her book?” Solomonow screwed up his face and took the insult in stride.

The last time I met with him was at a Chinese restaurant in midtown Manhattan. He was beginning to suffer with Parkinson’s. I sensed it would be my last chance to ask him my unasked questions. He never spoke with me about his meetings

with Arafat. What was he like, that legendary old man in his West Bank bunker with his powerful Semitic nose that seemed to punch holes into any notion of his imminent departure from the world stage.

Wrapping his arm around Solomonow’s waist, the waiter escorted him, brightly smiling in his woolen cap with its cheery pompom, to our table.

“So,” I said while we were eating, “tell me about Arafat.”

“Arafat was like a mukhtar. A village chief. He was mainly concerned with keeping his territory intact.”

That’s all he would say. Nothing about historic perspectives and legacy. Just those few words about a man safeguarding his life’s hard-earned acquisitions. In that way, little different from many ordinary men.

When dinner ended, my friend greeted a third, newly arrived older man with hugs and tears. Both peace activists had been together at Allenwood. They spoke in whispers, sayings things their ears alone could hear. I stood back, respectful of this intimacy of the few on behalf of the many.

Endings, I thought on my way home. Friends who mark and change us. Friends who put us to work, tucking away miles of newsprint for the sake of peace. Where did all that paper go?

Robert Hirschfield is a New York-based writer and poet. He has spent much of the last five years writing and assembling poems about his mother’s Alzheimer’s. In 2019, Presa Press published a volume of his poems titled, The Road to Canaan. His work has appeared in Parabola, Tricycle, Spirituality & Health, Sojourners, The Moth (Ireland), Tears in The Fence (UK) and other publications.

Aging with Confidence
What, as an old man, can I live for before death takes me, as it took him?

Shelly Parks will tell you right away that “people aren’t attracted to cohousing unless it speaks to them.” So when I asked her about the hiking trails in her neighborhood, she insisted on giving me her own dog-eared trail map. She could tell that trails were something that spoke to me, and she wanted me to fully appreciate everything her new home—the Skagit Commons cohousing community in Anacortes, Washington—had to offer. The day I visited Skagit Commons was cold but sunny, and when I looked at that map, I could instantly imagine bundling up and walking two blocks to the nearest trailhead to see how spring was progressing in the forest, or walking a bit further to take in the views of the San Juan Islands from the top of Mt. Erie. But hiking would have to wait. I had come to learn about cohousing, and touring Skagit Commons with Parks was a great introduction.

Shelly Parks Wants You to Get to Know Cohousing

Parks feels no obligation to persuade everyone she meets that cohousing is their own perfect lifestyle model. But she does, fervently, wish to connect with anyone who might love cohousing, if only they understood better what it was.

Cohousing communities are not communes. Parks defines cohousing as “a neighborhood design that combines the autonomy of private dwellings with the advantages of living in a

supportive community.” People own their own homes, which range from single-family houses to townhomes to one- or two-story condominiums. But they also “own” access to outdoor and indoor common spaces. In an urban community, the common outdoor spaces might be a roof garden and an inner courtyard. In an exurban or rural community, there might be a lawn or meadow, patios, and other gathering spots, a few acres of forest, and/or a large garden, with or without chickens. The indoor common space in most cohousing communities is a building that houses a large kitchen and dining area—where communal meals happen as frequently as several times a week or as seldom as once a month—and often, in addition, a living room, a game room, a children’s playroom, spare bedrooms for visiting guests, storage, shared laundry, and a shared tool library. “People say it’s the perfect balance between privacy and community,” Parks says.

Skagit Commons in Anacortes is one of the very newest cohousing communities in the Pacific Northwest. The community includes 15 flats in one light-filled, three-story building, and 15 townhomes along a pedestrian pathway, with a common building in-between. Directly to the north is a protected wetland meadow. To the east and south is a residential Anacortes neighborhood. To the west, and also south, are those trail-filled parcels of the Anacortes Community Forest Lands.

As of January 2023, Skagit Commons is Parks’ home. She and her husband Charles downsized from a single-family house in Edmonds to a 600-square-foot, third-floor flat with a view of Mt. Baker from the front door.

For Parks—as for everyone who chooses cohousing—this was no

overnight decision. She had a career she loved, in sales and marketing for retirement communities. But something was stirring in her. One night, about seven or eight years ago, as she tells it, “I was doing a Google search and I just stumbled on cohousing, and I remember thinking, ’Oh, this is how we’re supposed to live. We’re supposed to live in community. Interdependent with each other.’”

“It just spoke to me,” she continues. “A lot of people will say, ‘It’s what I had in my head, and then I heard there was a name for it.’” A few months later, Parks attended a national conference on senior cohousing in Salt Lake City. Her career shift had begun.

“Communitas” is the word architect

Grace Kim, who designed Skagit Commons, used in a 2017 TED talk that has been viewed by 2.5 million people called “Communitas: The Spirit of Community.” Kim, who also designed and is a founding resident of Capitol Hill Cohousing in Seattle, went on to speak—and this was three years before the COVID-19 pandemic began—about the “public health epidemic of isolation” and how “cohousing is an antidote. Cohousing can save your life.”

(CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE)

Aging with Confidence summer 2023 | 3rd Act magazine 51
Top: Artist rendering of Skagit Commons in Anacortes, Wash.; Below right: Quimper Village in Port Townsend, Wash. Below left: Parks launches CoVision, a cohousing development consulting service (Lara Grauer)
Parks fervently wishes to connect with anyone who might love cohousing, if only they understood better what it was.

(CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS PAGE)

Kim may not be overstating things. In The Good Life: Lessons from the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness, authors (and also directors of the study) Robert Waldinger and Mark Schulz said this about the key to a long and healthy life: “One thing continuously demonstrates its broad and enduring importance—good relationships.”

This all makes tons of sense to Parks. Though she has worked in sales all her life, she describes herself as an introvert. “More introverts are attracted to cohousing than extraverts,” she says. “People are always surprised by that. But it’s true. Left to my own devices, I would isolate myself. I know that about myself. Being in community

allows me relationships that are easier. It allows me to be more vulnerable. More who I am. There is something about a group of people coming together to say, ’We’re committed to each other,’ that allows you to. I don’t feel as judged, if that makes sense.”

To her surprise and delight, she also sees her recently retired husband—who is also an introvert, or so Parks had always thought— “thriving in a way I’d never imagined. Every day since we have lived here, he’s off helping somebody with some project. We’re the only people with a pickup truck.”

Kristine Forbes, who recently moved from a Seattle cohousing community

to one in Olympia, understands this sense of thriving. Though cohousing requires commitment—intention, as Kim would say—it is also, in Forbes’ words, “uncomplicated and stable.” And, always “a growth experience.”

“Something happens when you know your neighbor,” writes architect Charles Durrett in A Solution to Homelessness in Your Town, an affordable cohousing community in

52 3rd Act magazine | summer 2023 www.3rdActMag.com
Clockwise from top left: Shelly Parks visits with Skagit Commons neighbors (photo by Lara Gaurer); Charles Durrett (on right) meets with resident; Skagit Commons community members with Schemata Workshop architect team
Cohousing communities are not communes. Parks defines cohousing as “a neighborhood design that combines the autonomy of private dwellings with the advantages of living in a supportive community.”

Napa County, California, created for formerly homeless seniors, especially veterans. Durrett, who with his exwife Kathryn McCamant is viewed as a pioneer of co-housing in the United States, has authored 15 books about on the subject, including The Senior Cohousing Handbook. He and McCamant designed Quimper Village, a 55+ cohousing community in Port Townsend, Washington, viewed as a model for senior cohousing projects.

For people in their third act, cohousing offers the kind of neighborly help we’re all likely to need from time to time: after a hip replacement, for example. Residents whose needs increase over time may not be able to stay forever. But the health and wellness benefits of cohousing may help older residents live longer on their own.

“I’ve never seen anybody pick themselves up by their own bootstraps, ever,” Durrett told me. “But I’ve seen a lot of people that have been virtually picked up by the bootstraps by a community. Metaphorically and really.”

“If you are going to look ahead at your life and say, ‘How am I going to age well?’ you’ve got to have in there that you’re going to be in community in some way,” says Parks. For some people, that might mean their faith community or a tight circle of nearby neighbors, friends, or family. But cohousing offers a different model. An intentional model. And the more you learn about it, the more you may find yourself, as Shelly Parks did, saying “This makes sense.”

Ann Hedreen is an author ( Her Beautiful Brain), teacher of memoir writing, and filmmaker. Hedreen and her husband, Rustin Thompson, own White Noise Productions and have made more than 150 short films and several feature documentaries together, including Quick Brown Fox: An Alzheimer’s Story. She is currently at work on a book of essays.

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Imagine the Mekong River as it winds its way through Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam to the South China Sea. A unique and exotic riverscape with houses on stilts, fishermen tossing nets, gilded temples, and rhythmic music with each paddle stroke. In my mind I hear Tina Turner wailing, “Rollin’ on the River.” Every dream begins with a romantic vision that ultimately must face reality.

lingering with the lotus

A more appropriate and honest tune would be, “Roasting on the river…” as we were met with 95+ degree days, portable, but slow inflatable kayaks, smokefilled skies from rice farmers burning their paddies, and, yes, our aging bodies.

As the 75-year-old “Paddle Pilgrim”—I have paddled the Mississippi River, Erie Canal, the Hudson River to the Statue of Liberty, and the fjords of Norway—I was confident the Mekong River team I recruited was capable. Dr. Deby Cassill, 75, is a world-renowned field biologist, David Gehrke, 74, a frequent pilgrim on the Camino del Santiago, and Pastor Tom Glasoe,

a youngster at 48, and a VietnameseAmerican, was coming home.

Whether paddling a river or navigating a life journey, midcourse corrections are crucial, and the Mekong paddle adventure was no exception. As we shared our stories and pictures with friends back home, a change in perspective began taking place. One friend noticed we weren’t paddling as much as expected and commented, “Looks like you are stopping to smell the roses.” After a moment of grieving that change, I realized a new phase was taking place on this adventure.

Rivers can become teachers, and the Mekong was telling us to slow down. In addition to reveling in the twists and turns and rapids, the Mother of Waters was pointing us to the people on her shores, to their unique cultures, their challenges, and their welcoming hospitality. Because the lotus is the symbol of Southeast Asian culture and frequently seen along our journey, we decided to “linger with the lotus.”

As we paddled in southern Laos toward the Khone Falls,

54 3rd Act magazine | summer 2023 www.3rdActMag.com
Sunset on the Mekong River

the largest waterfall by width (9 miles) in the world, we snaked our way through the land of 4,000 islands. Our paddle was both beautiful and treacherous, and we were delighted late one afternoon to see a large structure on the river’s edge. It was the PonArena Hotel. After camping on sand bars, a shower sounded wonderful. The hotel was beyond our imagination with a swimming pool, dining room, and river view rooms all at $30 a night, including breakfast.

Pon, the owner of the hotel, was our first “river angel.” Business was slow as the economy was still recovering from COVID, but he took us under his wing and became our host and friend. One highlight was hi s guiding us to the Falls where we and he both captured spectacular drone images of the cascading waterfalls bathed in mist. On the way he made a special stop to show us a huge constr uction site being developed by China as a tourist “city,” with hotels, restaurants, and a golf course. This was our first encounter with a major challenge facing this region—significant investments by China in dams, infrastructure, and tourism. This was our initial taste of “neocolonialism.”

Our next “river angel” was Dr. Phil, an expatriate American who has lived in Cambodia for many years doing a different kind of development work with the Dignity Project. The project helps

the country heal and recover from the trauma of the Khmer Rouge genocide that killed 2 million people and is described in the film, The Killing Fields. Each evening he helped us process our experience and see hope amid struggles.

Our final angels were a host led by Dr. Quang, a professor at Can Tho University in Vietnam. Dr. Q, through the Mekong Environmental Forum, does research about the effects of climate change in the Mekong Delta, and develops strategies for creating sustainable agriculture, fisheries, enhancing the role of women, rural health, and eco-tourism. We were back on the water again as we toured pilot programs with floriculture projects raising crabs, shrimp, fish, and bees, and cottage industries with local crafts including silk weaving. We were honored to attend a conference led by his students who as “citizen scientists” have been gathering data to help with rural development.

Our journey ended with a visit in Cambodia to Angkor Wat, a magnificent temple at the center of the Khmer Dynasty, which ruled this region from the 9th to the 15th centuries. Lingering with the lotus, we were filled with gratitude for the river, the people, and the cultures we experienced on our Mekong River adventure.

Aging with Confidence summer 2023 | 3rd Act magazine 55
Dave Ellingson is a Lutheran pastor, master gardener, former distance runner, and father of five grown children. You can listen to his podcast at https://anchor.fm/david-ellingson. He lives in Edmonds, Wash. Clockwise from top right: Mekong River paddle team—Deby Cassill, David Gehrke, Dave Ellingson, and Tom Glasoe; Dave in his boat; tired paddlers take a break on the Mekong; a section of Khone Phapheng Falls; Watermelon woman and son.

THE Zen OF TRAVEL JOURNALING

When I travel, I make it a habit to collect only one thing: memories. The most treasured keepsake of any trip I take is the journal I bring home, filled with descriptions and observations of the people I’ve met, the places I’ve seen, and the experiences I’ve had.

Thinking back, it seems I’ve always had a desire to capture my discoveries and eureka moments in a journal. On my first trip to Europe, as a 14-year-old, I collected and logged my experiences in a file of a hundred postcards, each numbered and packed with my notes.

Thereafter, every trip I took inspired my passion for filling up an empty journal, even when I was just a footloose vagabond with no career goals. But with practice, I became a keen and disciplined journaler.

I now have a set routine: On the

flight over to Europe, I make a personal inventory of my mindset and my hopes for the trip. On the plane ride home, I write with a similarly introspective wrap-up. And each night in between, I don’t drift off to sleep before cataloging my day’s experiences, discoveries, and thoughts into that book.

Without capturing your thoughts on paper (or on a laptop or tablet), the lessons of travel are like shooting stars you just missed and butterflies you thought you saw. Collecting intimate details on the road, and then distilling them into your journal, sharpens your ability to observe and creates a keepsake you’ll always cherish.

You don’t have to give a chronological account of your journey. In fact, you probably shouldn’t. Consider just sitting somewhere interesting and writing

about your immediate surroundings or focusing on a specific interaction you’ve had with a local.

Leave out the boring stuff. Ten years from now, you won’t feel the need to recall the mediocre meal you grabbed at that café or the quality of the hotel’s complimentary breakfast. You want to include details that capture the character of a place as well as your personal response. Throw in sketches, mementos, little paper souvenirs like maps and old tickets—anything that takes you back to that moment.

Some of the fun of writing is choosing a journal. I prefer a minimalist design—light, yet with stiff enough covers to give me something solid to write on in the absence of a table. I like invitingly empty pages— no extra decorative frills or verbose

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doodads. I write in black ink or a mechanical pencil, allowing my simple words to be the focus. Consider a bound book as spiral notebooks tend to fall apart. After your trip, a bound book can become a classic on your bookshelf.

The key to good journaling is being both observant and disciplined, to take the time to notice what you’re noticing. Hiking deep into a misty English moor as a teenage traveler, I wrote, “Longhaired goats and sheep seem to gnaw on grass in their sleep. We were lost in a world of green, wind, white rocks, and birds—birds singing, but unseen. Then we found the stones, standing in a circle as if waiting for us to come. And in stillness, they entertained. After being alone with that private stone circle, the more famous Stonehenge— with its barbed wire, tour buses, and port-a-loos—won’t quite make it.”

It was on the boat to France the next day that I worked on those rough notes.

And it was then that I realized what I wanted to do for a living—finding hidden bits of Europe and bringing them home through my writing.

stringy. The entire steamy scene was three colors: gray concrete, dark wood, and ruddy flesh. Surrounded by naked locals (each with a tin bucket between his legs—used to splash cool water on his face), there was absolutely no indication of what century I was in. But from the faces, it was perfectly clear— this was Finland.”

Now, decades later, I still snare those happenings as they flutter by, eager to see what I can build with all that fun raw material. On my last trip to Helsinki I was so flustered by the language barrier in an extremely untouristy sauna that I didn’t know how to get a dry towel. Sitting in the corner to air dry, I decided to pass the time observing and jotting down ideas for my journal:

“People look more timeless and ethnic when naked with hair wet and

With those notes, I can stoke my memories and revisit that sauna for the rest of my life. Enjoy the physical act of putting pen to paper, and gathering new experiences, lessons, thoughts, and feelings while they are fresh and vibrant. Travel brings new color to your life, and journaling lets you stand back to understand and enjoy the art as it unfolds.

Rick Steves (www.ricksteves. com) writes European guidebooks, hosts travel shows on public TV and radio, and organizes European tours. You can email Rick at rick@ ricksteves.com and follow his blog on Facebook.

Aging with Confidence summer 2023 | 3rd Act magazine 57 WEST SEATTLE 2615 SW Barton St. • 206.937.6122 FEDERAL WAY 35419 First Ave. South • 253.838.3700 villagegreenretirement.com
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THE KEY TO GOOD JOURNALING IS BEING BOTH OBSERVANT AND DISCIPLINED, TO TAKE THE TIME TO NOTICE WHAT YOU’RE NOTICING.

Good Intentions

I’ve been thinking about the relationship between intention and impact. It’s a basic concept in diversity work and applicable to many other modalities such as how and what we eat.

Simply put, it asks us to recognize that even if our intentions are good, we might still say or do something that has a negative impact on ourselves and others. Assuming everybody sees things the same way can get us in trouble. I am particularly sensitive to statements that start with, “We all know that …” When I find the utterance too off base to my

experience, I push back gently with, “That’s not been my experience” or “that isn’t true for me.”

The saying, “where attention goes, energy flows and results show,” fits neatly with the distinction between attention and intention. Attention is close or careful observing or listening. Intention is the course of action that one plans on following. Attention takes place in the present and intention concerns itself with the future.

Halfway through 2023, a look in our rearview mirror—or a full length one for that matter—reveals how well we

did with the resolutions (intentions) we might have stated at year’s start.

Dipping into the Positivity Realm—the metaphor first posited by philosopher Jonathon Haidt—provides a good visual. He suggests that we are of “two minds.” One mind is our rational, logical, practical mind—we think about what we want to do, make plans to do it, and start in on the plan. The other mind is our emotional mind. How we feel about something is often the determinant for what we do or don’t do.

Haidt asks us to imagine we are riding an elephant that will take us where it wants to go. “Let’s go!” we tell the elephant, urging it to the produce section of our organic market. The elephant ignores us, turning toward the display of cakes and doughnuts. You get it. We struggle with what we know is good for us and what we know isn’t. This existential dilemma can play out daily in terms of what we choose to eat.

Summer is the right season for

NOURISH YOUR BODY

healthy and ample. Home gardens, farmers markets and shares in CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, is a way for small farmers to directly market their produce to the community) overflow with the fruits and vegetables of the season.

If you’ve read my columns over the years, you will know that I have a penchant for transformation. I like starting with an initial recipe or preparation and then use it again in a different guise. I can often get three different dishes from one initial recipe. I buy accordingly since I look forward to what emerges later in the week. Here are some suggestions for starting with one category of preparation and its metamorphosis to another. I hope these suggestions appeal to your “elephant” enough so you’ll head down healthy paths!

Fruit

Fancy fruit salad

Combine fresh berries or other summer fruits such as plums, peaches, and nectarines. Add a squeeze of lemon and maybe a shot of sweet liquor. Serve with flavored yogurt.

Crisps and Crumbles

Use leftover fruit in crisp recipes, and add some chopped candied ginger or other dried fruit and chopped nuts to the standard topping to take it up a notch.

Transformation Ideas

Summer Salad Soup

Fruit sauce for cakes or ice cream

Heat leftover fruit with whatever preserves or jams you have in your refrigerator. This a great way to finish the small amounts of jams that need using. Add whatever flavor liquor you have at hand. Let the mixture simmer, perhaps adding some lemon or other citrus juice to brighten it up. Serve over ice cream or cake.

Leafy Greens

Salads

Summer greens offer us more choices than the winter ones from warmer climates. In addition to the standard leaf lettuces and Romaine, try mizuna, radicchio, mesclun, watercress, and mustard greens. Toss them with tangy dressings made with lemon juice and herbs, flavored oils, or buttermilk.

Transformation Ideas

Pie or Custard

Bake leftover fruit in tart shells, as the bottom layer in my Buttermilk Pie, or as a base for Clafoutis. (Recipes at 3rdActMagazine.com)

Don’t toss your leftover or wilted salad greens. Load them into your food processor or blender and add several cups of buttermilk, V-8, or tomato juice. Blend until smooth and check for the balance of flavors. This is where fresh herbs like basil, dill, mint, and cilantro add punch and flavor. Add salt and pepper and/or garlic to taste.

Roasted or Baked Greens

If you’ve ever had a grilled Caesar salad, you might remember the surprising combination of crisp and hot, with garlic and anchovies melting into the warm greens.

That’s the idea of roasting or baking some of the heartier greens and using them as welcoming beds for eggs or other proteins. Cabbage and kale, bok choy and collards, mustard greens, and beet greens all benefit from heat.

Toss them with garlic and olive oil, salt, pepper, and other herbs and spices you like. Roast in a hot oven until they wilt and brown a bit. All of them will benefit from a shot of Worcestershire sauce.

Aging with Confidence summer 2023 | 3rd Act magazine 59
Rebecca Crichton is executive director of Northwest Center for Creative Aging and presents programs on that topic in the Seattle area.

SEATTLE ARTS

Stroll into the sunny Seattle Mosaic Arts storefront in the quiet Wallingford neighborhood and your eyes may quickly turn to a wall of glittering colors.

Jars filled with glinting pieces of glass in multiple hues of blue, green, red, and yellow are lined up across long shelves. But that’s not the only eye-catching sight in this welcoming outpost. Every wall is covered with an impressive array of mosaic mandalas, butterflies, pictures, and framed mirrors. Step outside into the backyard to find colorful tables with brightly patterned mosaic tops.

It is all the handiwork of those who frequent this attractive and unique studio. You will often find on hand one of the studio’s most prolific artists, Claire Barnett—a woman with long, silver hair and a warm smile—who is the proprietor of Seattle Mosaic Arts. Barnett is a retired physician who became a mosaic artist as a creative and therapeutic way of dealing with an immense personal tragedy. She founded the studio so others could learn the craft, too, and if needed, find an expressive outlet and solace while coping with their own challenges.

Barnett doesn’t like to dwell on it, but she will not hesitate to share her personal story with others when asked. In 2000, her two young daughters, 8-year-old Coriander and 6-year-old Blake, and their father David Clementson (Claire’s ex-husband), perished in an Alaska Airlines plane crash that killed all 88 people on board. As a way of dealing with their shock and grief, Barnett and her family and friends began a tradition of coming to together annually to celebrate their lost loved ones’ birthdays by jointly making mosaic tributes—six-pointed stars for Blake, eight-pointed stars for Coriander—in the form of garden stones. They are as beautiful as they are meaningful.

“Medicine had very little to offer me in my grief,” Barnett

recalls. “There’s no pill, no therapy that worked for it. If you are grieving, every sunny day is not a happy day. My goals of helping people cope with grief and loss has a very small ‘h.’ It means accompanying, doing things together, so they are not so alone.”

Barnett especially found that the physical act of piecing together mosaic art provided some release from being “locked in” to post-traumatic stress and overpowering loss.

She grew intrigued with the artform and went abroad to study mosaics in Italy. She devised her own techniques for working with the medium—techniques that could be easily passed on to others. Then in 2009, while walking her dog near her Wallingford home, she spotted an empty storefront and decided to make a place for others to join in this art form.

Today, Seattle Mosaic Arts offers an array of supplies, classes for beginners and more experienced artists, templates for designs, and do-it-yourself mosaic kits that can be picked up or ordered by mail.

For Barnett, another important aspect of the business is the connection with others it provides to the roughly 130 members (many of whom are over age 60) who pay monthly fees to drop into the studio and work on their own projects whenever the spirit moves them. “One of the unexpected things about this is community,” Barnett says. “We can come together, and just having a place to go to do something creative, where people know you and care, is wonderful.”

She even kept things going during the height of the pandemic, by assembling and sending off packages with everything someone needed to make a piece, including glass, glue, a paper template, and instructions.

But community is a much broader concept for Barnett than just the people served by the Wallingford studio. In addition to lecturing and teaching beyond Seattle, she joined forces with the international aid group Partners in Health to help underwrite a project that resulted in beautiful mosaic murals for a hospital in Haiti, which is the poorest country in Latin America and the Caribbean. “It was a big fundraising effort. We raised donations by making more than 50 mosaic plaques, which were later installed there,” Barnett says.

Currently, she is spearheading a newer project called The Abortion Quilt. It was inspired by the famous AIDS Memorial Quilt and by Barnett’s decades of work as a doctor specializing in women’s health, including work at Planned Parenthood and internationally in Kenya.

Barnett believes that reproductive rights are essential, and she invites people to make 4-inch mosaic triangles, representing the impact abortion has had in their lives, for the quilt. Pieced

60 3rd Act magazine | summer 2023 www.3rdActMag.com
ON THE TOWN

together into vibrant, five-foot diamonds, the glass quilt pieces sport specific colors that indicate whether the artist has had an abortion, or has a partner, a family member or a friend who ended a pregnancy.

Though it has been challenging to shift gears from providing direct medical care to offering care through the creative arts, Barnett has found the change to be very, very gratifying. “I loved being a doctor,” she says, “but I’m really proud of the studio and the community we’ve made.”

Seattle Mosaic Arts is located at 5417 Meridian Ave N. in Seattle. For information about products, memberships, and classes, visit seattlemosaicarts.com or call 206-402-6642. The studio is open noon-6 p.m. daily.

Misha Berson writes about the arts for crosscut.com and many other media outlets, teaches for the UW Osher program, and is the author of four books, including Something’s Coming, Something Good: West Side Story and the American Imagination (Applause/Hal Leonard).

summer 2023 | 3rd Act magazine 61
Clockwise from top: Seattle Mosaic Arts storefront; one of many exquisite pieces displayed in the gallery; Founder Claire Barnett (photos courtesy Seattle Mosaic Arts) This column from top: Members work on projects; garden stone stars memorialize daughters lost in a 2000 Alaska Airlines plane crash; two completed diamonds of The Abortion Quilt (photos courtesy Seattle Mosaic Arts)

My View from the Back of the Bus

I thought I’d taken an unabashed look at the white privilege I grew up with. I’ve read books, watched movies, spoken with people of color, done a deep dive into my deeply ingrained, culturally absorbed beliefs and biases, and wrote an essay titled, “Blinded by the White” for this magazine. I should have been ready for some of the disturbing revelations of racism and discrimination by Merritt D. Long in his inspiring memoir, My View from the Back of the Bus, but I still find it difficult to wrap my head around how this could happen—and still does with disturbing regularity—in America.

Long was born in Bessemer, Alabama, at the height of Jim Crow: “I’m the one you called nigger with relish and glee. I’m the one you forced to use the ‘Colored’ restroom in the land of the free and the home of the brave,” the prologue begins. The list is long: “I’m the one you and two of your buddies pulled guns on when ten of us were swimming and playing in a lake in the woods that nobody owned … We had no swimming pool—the city-owned swimming pools were for Whites, and Whites only. I’m the one who was invisible, who didn’t count. You thought I would never amount to anything, I’m Merritt Douglas Long.”

It wasn’t just institutionalized racism that Long needed to navigate in his young life. His father was prone to unprovoked violent rages and would beat Long for the smallest perceived infraction. Yet, Long does not hold resentment. Behind the beatings was also a man who worked hard to ensure his sons would have a better future and more opportunity than he did, and that’s the father Long loves.

Long moved to Seattle in 1968 after graduating from Morehouse College and started his career in Washington state government. He and his family moved to Olympia in 1973, where he was hired as a community worker for the Washington State Board Against Discrimination (now the Washington State Human Rights Commission). From there his career started to ascend as the executive director of the Commission for Vocational Education, then later, as the director of the Human Rights Commission. In 1997, thenGovernor Gary Locke appointed Long as the state lottery director. “When I think about the arc of my journey from Bessemer, Alabama, to the Washington State Governor’s Office,” Long writes, “I realize it’s the culmination of my life experiences over some 40 years. It has been an amazing and satisfying journey.”

Long’s story is one of resourcefulness, resilience, and perseverance through the almost insurmountable roadblocks our shameful racist culture put in his path. Many people, if not most, are unable to overcome such adverse circumstances. My View from the Back of the Bus is the story of one person who did. I highly recommend it.

GAMES FOR YOUR BRAIN

62 3rd Act magazine | summer 2023 www.3rdActMag.com BOOKS
ANSWERS (Puzzles on page 64) Echo
Echo
8.
1. Boo-Boo 2. John-John 10.
3.
BB 4. 20/20 5. Choo-choo
6. Sirhan Sirhan 7. Can-can Dodo 9.
So -so
Yo-yo Pencil Play 1. Pablo Picasso 2. Pedal Pushers 3. Penny Pincher 4. Peter Pan 5. Playing Possum 10.
6.
Pol Pot
7. Printing
Press
8.
Pulitzer Prize
9.
Pumpkin Pie
10.
Ping Pong
Sobriquets 1. Philadelphia 2. Canada 3. Hollywood 4. Japan 5. Broadway 6. Ireland 7. Rome 8. The New York Times 9. Australia and New Zealand
The Press

Summer Reading for all ages

Aging with Confidence summer 2023 | 3rd Act magazine 63

GAMES

for your brain

Exercise your brain and have some fun with these puzzles designed to stimulate different cognitive functions.

Echo Echo (easy)

All the answers in this quiz have repeating sounds, such as Papa, Bye-Bye, and Bora Bora.

1. Yogi Bear’s companion, or a little cut or bruise to a child.

2. Popular nickname for President Kennedy’s son. ____________

3. Toy gun that shoots round projectiles. ____________

4. Perfect vision. ____________

5. Slang for a train, especially in Chattanooga. ____________

6. He killed Robert Kennedy. ____________

Pencil Play (harder)

7. High-kicking dance performed by a chorus line. ____________

8. It’s likely that this flightless bird became extinct around 1700. ____________

9. Average, mediocre, passable. ____________

10. Made up of a string and two discs, this toy has been around for a couple thousand years. ____________

All of the two-word answers in this game begin with the letters P and P.

1. Spanish painter, sculptor, and cofounder of the Cubist movement, he lived most of his life in France. ____________

2. Popular during the 1950s, these calf-length trousers were also called clam diggers and Capri pants. ____________

3. Miser, cheapskate, skinflint, or tightwad. ____________

4. The mischievous boy who lived on the small island of Neverland. ____________

5. Pretending to be dead or asleep in the face of a threat.

Sobriquets (hardest)

6. Despotic leader of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. ____________

7. Gutenberg’s mid-15th century invention. ____________

8. Coveted award in journalism. ____________

9. The perfect ending to a Thanksgiving feast. ____________

10. Table tennis. ____________

Sobriquets, unlike nicknames, are generally used in place of a person’s given name and describe their character, skill, strength personality, achievement, or reputation. They can be either an honor or an insult, and are not just given to people. In this game, we’ve provided the sobriquet and you must name the place or organization to which it refers.

1. The City of Brotherly Love ____________

2. The Great White North ____________

3. Tinseltown ____________

4. The Land of the Rising Sun ____________

5. The Great White Way ____________

6. The Emerald Isle ____________

7. The Eternal City ____________

8. The Gray Lady ____________

9. The Antipodes ____________

10. The Fourth Estate ____________

Reprinted with permission from Nancy Linde, author of the best-selling book 399 Puzzles, Games, and Trivia Challenges Specially Designed to Keep Your Brain Young, 417 More Games, Puzzles, and Trivia Challenges Specially Designed to Keep Your Brain Young; and 299 On-the-Go Games and Puzzles to Keep Your Brain Young. She is also the creator of the website Never2Old4Games.com, which is used by many senior-serving organizations in the U.S. and Canada.

ANSWERS ON PAGE 62

64 3rd Act magazine | summer 2023 www.3rdActMag.com
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