3rd Act Magazine – Fall 2019

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FALL 2019

What Your Grandchild Wants You to Know How to Build a Close Relationship

The Many Layers of Loss Navigating Life’s Vicissitudes CRUISING IN EUROPE Pros and Cons


RESILIENCE How to Bend, Not Break

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MESSAGE from the publisher

How to Live and Love Amid Loss


’m worried about my dog, Oshi. She’s 9, the love of my life, and something seems wrong. She’s panting and coughing at night. Could it be her heart? By the time you read this I will have some answers, but now I just fret, panicked at the thought of losing her too soon. The day we bring a puppy home we know we’re setting ourselves up for a whole heap of future heartache, but we do it anyway. Living life asks us to be courageous despite the fact that life makes no promises— except that everything is temporary— and that includes us and all we love. So how do we do it? How do we survive all the little losses that accumulate as we age and the big losses that will inevitably broadside us? In her column “Living Past Grief” (page 10), psychologist and

cultural anthropologist Jennifer James says, “Somehow, if you stay open to life, accepting the pain, eventually you find your true self. You start to believe all that has gone before was a fair price paid…” In “There’s a PATH for That” (page 24), Dr. Eric Larson posits that the secret is cultivating resilience, “the capacity to adapt and grow stronger in the face of adversity or stress,” and he offers three guideposts toward a more resilient life. In this issue we tackle loss and grief. What we find on the other side is our aliveness and a keener sense of what it means to be an experienced human. In that aliveness we heal and help others heal. We play with our grandchildren and build our legacy. We laugh and fall down and get back up again. And we weep. That’s the bargain—the price we pay for getting to be here. Let’s follow the advice of Paul Boardman and his interpretation of memento mori: “Let’s love well. Let’s let our beloved know of our love constantly. As a habit—a fierce and regular habit. Nothing is more urgent.” I leave you now to take my precious Oshi on a walk—a way I express my love to her—while I still can.

Life asks us to be courageous.

OU R VI SI ON 3rd Act Magazine endeavors to inform, inspire, and entertain older adults. Our stories and articles challenge worn-out perceptions of aging and offer a dynamic new vision: Aging is good, let’s celebrate and embrace this stage of life, and let’s age together with confidence. PU B LI SH E RS Victoria Starr Marshall David Marshall EDITOR Victoria Starr Marshall COPY EDITOR Julie Fanselow ART DIRECTOR Philip Krayna WEBSITE Philip Krayna ADVERTISING Victoria Starr Marshall, Carolyn Hultz DISTRIBUTION & CIRCULATION David Marshall WRITE TO US 3rd Act Magazine wants to hear from you! Email your comments, ideas, and questions to info@3rdActMag.com or mail to 81 Canal Lane, 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 of 3rd Act Magazine. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without prior consent of the publisher. It is your responsibility to evaluate the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, opinion, advice, or other content contained herein. Oshi Publishing, LLC makes no representation and, to the fullest extent allowed by law, disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied. The content published herein may include inaccuracies or typographical errors. Copyright 2019 Oshi Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved. Oshi Publishing, LLC, 81 Canal Lane Brinnon, WA 98320 · 360-796-4837 Email: info@3rdActMag.com For subscriptions and additional information, see us online at www.3rdActMag.com.


3rd Act magazine | fall 2019


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3rd Act magazine | fall 2019


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3rd Act magazine | fall 2019




FACE-LIFT An emotional and

physical journey from first notion to final result. PRISCILLA CHARLIE HINCKLEY



How to help grandchildren learn resourcefulness in our overly scheduled times. CATHY KUNTZ



The woman behind Harmony Hill. JULIE FANSELOW



Years after a parent’s death, Alzheimer’s legacy lives on. ANN HEDREEN


Change and loss accumulate as we age, but we have gains too. SALLY FOX

ARTFUL AGING 8 AGING WITH INTENTION What are your real beliefs about getting old? LINDA HENRY

10 HONOR YOUR LIFE The many faces of grief. JENNIFER JAMES



ABOUT LIFE Lessons from

death can teach us how to live. PAUL BOARDMAN


Speed bumps were invented by a Nobel Prize-winning physicist. Really! ANNIE CULVER



Who is that person in the mirror? JULIA HUBBEL


WANTS YOU TO KNOW Tips on how to build a closer relationship. DALLAS WOODBURN

Aging with Confidence

3rd Act magazine | fall 2019




54 LIFESTYLE 14 COURAGE FOR CHRISTMAS A widow learns to ask for help in starting anew. KRISTI SMITH


One of you will die first, so get your finances in order. DON McDONALD


All the ingredients you need to accommodate change during the holidays. REBECCA CRICHTON


A prolific painter creates art for good causes. LYNN COLWELL


It’s a bargain way to see the world, but know its limits. RICK STEVES

FALL 2019


How to improve your recall, intentionally. CHARLES E. KRAUS

28 W HAT THE HECK IS PICKLE BALL? Warning: This sport can be addicting! STEPHANIE BLANK


What to do when worries seem insurmountable. BETSY WISE


When exercise can literally save your life. LISA STUEBING


The science behind heartbreak and how to cope with it. CONNIE McDOUGALL


It’s OK That You’re Not OK by Megan Devine and Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro Reviewed by Sally Fox

How to Build a Close Relationship


The Many Layers of Loss

Challenge yourself with these word puzzles.

Navigating Life’s Vicissitudes


A PATH to building resilience. DR. ERIC B. LARSON

Take your grandchildren (or other young friends) to a show this fall. MISHA BERSON

What Your Grandchild Wants You to Know




RESILIENCE How to Bend, Not Break

3rd Act magazine | fall 2019

Cover: One of the greatest gifts you can give your grandkids is simply spending time with them.

Citizenship United Thank you very much for your great magazine! With the Spring 2019 issue, I particularly noted how you cover great issues that are relevant to people over 55 or so, but also cover issues related to values and social concerns, like the plastic overwhelming our oceans. It differs from other publications, I think, because it is geared toward “older citizens,” rather than just the “older.” I really appreciate the quality of 3rd Act! — Maureen Jackson, Seattle

Good Bedside Reading Just received my Summer 2019 mag and I can tell already that I will be up most of the night enjoying it! I was so happy to learn about Iora! Job well done! Keep up the good work! — Lolita (Dolores) Garcia, Redmond

Keep It Coming The first time I saw your magazine was a week ago, in my doctor’s office at the Polyclinic, and I could not believe it was free. What a class act you have going on. I so appreciate your marketing strategy and interesting articles. I particularly enjoyed the article, “Don’t Die Until You’re Dead,” and one quote in particular, “Where nobody was slinging that ’60 is the new 40’ bullshit, Bittman says.” My sentiments exactly! Keep publishing and slinging your own brand of aging relevance. I love it so much, I just subscribed for two years. — Wendy Henry, Seattle

talk to us! by mail: 3rd Act Magazine, 81 Canal Lane, Brinnon, WA 98320 by email: info@3rdActMag.com subscribe: 3rdactmagazine.com/subscribe/ Please include your name, city, state, and phone number when possible. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. www.3rdActMag.com

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3rd Act magazine | fall 2019


1Fr app ma Enr ser Kai


Are You an Experienced Human? BY LINDA HENRY

Linda Henry writes regularly on topics related to aging, health care, and communication and is the co-author 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.


“IT’S MY WIFE’S BIRTHDAY,” Jay informed their friends, “but she doesn’t like to be called old.” “I want to be called experienced,” she explained. Are you experienced? As a society, we assign individuals to subgroups, typically defined by age. In one Family Circus cartoon, Dolly explains, “Then, after your junior year in high school, you get to be a senior citizen.” While we may smile at her concept of “seniorhood,” many of today’s diverse older generation dislike being called senior and reject services offered by senior centers, with the possible exception of travel opportunities they offer. We are all familiar with the frequently used terminology that makes some of us cringe as we might to nails on a chalkboard. The aversion to being described as old, elderly, over the hill, or (fill in the blank) is linked to our ageist and often negative beliefs we have about getting old. Many people believe that if you have seen one old(er) person, you have seen them all. Most of us, I hope, believe the opposite. Aging looks very different today. As Rabbi Dayle Friedman reminds us, “This is not your grandfather’s—or grandmother’s—aging.” So how do we make sense of where we fit? And, what do we want to be called? Would it be more acceptable to be placed in a group defined by more positive language suggestive of the roles we play? Although “experienced human” doesn’t flow easily from the tongue, it is a pretty good descriptor, and it is indicative of the wealth of knowledge older individuals have acquired. Or perhaps we are the wise ones, a term preferred

3rd Act magazine | fall 2019

by some. An African proverb suggests, “The loss of an elder is like the loss of a library.” In his book The End of Old Age: Living a Longer, More Purposeful Life, Dr. Marc E. Agronin suggests that elders play many important roles, including savant, one who knows a great deal about a topic and is able to share that information; sage, one who has tremendous life experience; curator, someone who cares for a valuable object or memory; and seer. I like being a wisdom-keeper. “Humans develop different forms of wisdom as they age, based on unique abilities, interests, and

experiences,” notes Agronin in a recent Aging Today article. Forms of wisdom, he claims, include having notable knowledge, experience, a balanced ability to make pragmatic decisions, or to express empathy and caring—all skills of considerable value we can share with others. So there you have it; take your pick. These thoughts aren’t meant to solve our quandary, but simply to add new ideas to the discussion. It’s within our power to choose language that feels right, or no label or group at all. Though I may be a certain chronological age, I don’t have to be defined by a term I reject. Carol Matthau says it well: “There is no old age. There is, as there always was, just you.” www.3rdActMag.com

Aging with Confidence

3rd Act magazine | fall 2019




TO ALL OF US WILL COME GRIEF. There are put things back on the shelves. small griefs— a lost purse or wallet, a missed plane, We will always be aware of loss. We can work an accident—that we learn to put in perspective. to make it grow smaller and push it to the back of There are middle griefs: the loss of a job, financial our mind, but it will remain a shadow that follows losses, rejection. Life experience teaches us that we us and in some ways defines us. It takes effort can recover from these events, to push ourselves to replace despite the pain. such losses to add to our life, There are deeper griefs— not subtract. The temptation the loss of a love, alienation is to add up all our dark times from a partner or adult child, a because we fear the future. disability—that we are forced to The last words I said to my accommodate. These are harder late husband, as we went to sleep to accept and work through. The the night before he unexpectedly loss of love can be so hurtful lapsed into a coma, were, “You because it is such a hunger, have helped me be a better —TONI MORRISON wanting to love and be loved, to person.” He smiled, he hugged feel safe. me, he was easygoing, never critical. His death The deepest grief—the loss of a child, changed me because I learned that when someone a diagnosis of terminal illness, the loss of we love dies, we must live our life with their spirit, everything through war or displacement—can not just ours. Life becomes more precious. only be softened with time and replacement. When my husband died I bought two lovebirds We are programmed to heal even horrific blows, and put their cage in the kitchen. I drew the but it requires our commitment. A Cambodian curtains to shield them from the windows and refugee who worked for me said he lost opened their cage door to let them fly. I needed everything: people, possessions, places, flowers. life, new life. Birds require gentleness, as did I. He planted a lotus in my pond. Grief batters your entire body. You are not At our age we have learned the costs we pay normal, so remember to breathe, watch out for for feeling, for caring. Deep grief requires far accidents, avoid big decisions, and go walking more than time and perspective. We have to heal every day. Being outside keeps you connected to ourselves; it is a lonely assignment. Our heart may the world just as caring for your body and staying feel like an empty house, a cupboard that has been clean keeps you connected to yourself. Sometimes stripped bare, and it is up to us to gently, slowly strangers can help more than friends. As I fought

“At some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough.”

Jennifer James has a doctorate in cultural anthropology and master’s degrees in history and psychology. She was a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington Medical School. Jennifer is the founding mother of the Committee for Children, an international organization devoted to the prevention of child abuse worldwide.


3rd Act magazine | fall 2019


a depression brought on by loss, every morning I pushed myself to walk along Lake Washington near my home. One morning a bus load of tourists drove slowly by. They waved and so I did, then they smiled. I felt loved. They thought I was normal. Parents who have lost a child find that remembering them and their spirit with random acts of kindness can turn grief into compassion. The note when a bereaved mother paid a stranger’s bill said, “For Emily. This is a loving gift from the child we lost.” She was healing her pain by remembering and giving. When I was robbed at gunpoint in my home it filled me with fear. The next morning I ran around the house filling a box with canned and packaged food, then I got in the car and took it to the food bank. A small loss for me, a small kindness for someone, but it helped rebalance my emotional equation. Profound grief has gifts, the deepening of self and expansion of compassion. We become more aware of the depth and richness of our emotional core as we age. Life becomes more passionate. The patched heart is stronger, the touched heart is kinder. Those who have felt the

deepest grief understand life in ways others may not. I recently sat at a dinner party with my new husband, grandchildren, friends, and an ex-spouse and I realized, at 76, that this is the happiest I have ever been. How could I think such a thing after so many failures, so many mistakes, so much grief, my painful disease? I am covered with patches, with more to come. I could think it because I decided my life has been so rich, a cornucopia of emotions, adventures, risks, hard work, grief, hurt, and always, always, trying to love and be loved. I’ve had to start over so many times, yet each time I built, bit by bit, a personal paradise out of friends, water, colors, textures, plants, and animals. Once it was only a room with just enough on the shelves. Now it is a home and a garden. Somehow, if you stay open to life, accepting the pain, eventually you find your true self. You start to believe all that has gone before was a fair price paid to arrive home and know it for the first time, as T.S. Eliot has written. If you are hurt, treat yourself with kindness. No one else can do it for you, and yours is the hand you will hold the longest.


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Aging with Confidence

3rd Act magazine | fall 2019


Seven Things I’ve Learned About

Life from Death Care BY PAUL BOARDMAN

“And did you get what you wanted from this life, even so? I did. And what did you want? To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth.” —Raymond Carver Of one thing I’m certain, death informs us about living life. Here are seven tenets on living well I’ve gleaned from my work in death care:


Memento mori

Memento mori means remember that you, too, shall die. Let’s love well. Let’s let our beloved know of our love constantly. As a habit—a fierce and regular habit. Nothing is more urgent. No more holding back. Death drives urgency. Let death cause you to thrill at and be fully in your life with people to whom you feel generous and loving. Don’t let death catch you by surprise.


When it comes time, ensure the only thing to do is die

If we want to die well, it means a practical re-ordering of our relationship to things, to the material world. Dignity means order in chaos. Order your soul and relationships, too. Forgiveness and reconciliation play a huge role.


The 11th commandment is tenderness

We may compete in fierce and principled battle. But the test of love is tenderness. A 75-year-old conservative Christian man left behind an only son from whom he became estranged 20 years ago, after the son came out as


3rd Act magazine | fall 2019

gay. The son delivered a moving remembrance of a man he had known only in his younger years. This son chose tenderness over bitterness.


Take full inventory of your blessings

Stephen Jenkinson wrote, “Every day, take a moment to sit at your deathbed and see what your dying self has to say about your life.” I add, “and about your blessings.” Count and share your graces. Cultivate what elates you. Leapy’s son said, “My father taught every neighborhood kid to ride a bike or drive a car. He mowed two neighbors’ lawns.” His daughter said, “He took delight in delighting our mother.”


The sacred formula: grief = praise

To grieve is to love and honor who we miss, a homesickness that never goes away. One day, I drove alone to remove the body of a 40-something woman. The husband met me at the door with three sisters. Her family had folded her hands atop the bedspread. Her mouth was peacefully closed. The family helped shroud and lay her on the gurney. Grief and love in action.


A realistic view is the foundation for compassion

So says the Dalai Lama. Assess situations reasonably and be clear-eyed about one’s responsibility. A woman in her late 60s started her relationship with her husband 30 years ago. But she said, “It’s complicated. He left me for eight years for a younger woman. But he got colorectal cancer and the young woman left, so I invited him back and cared for him his last 18 months.”


“Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy”

Set aside time to slow down, be with each other, and concentrate your astonishment at the mysteries. Paul Boardman is a writer and interfaith funeral chaplain and celebrant living in Seattle. He grew up in Tokyo and is a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary. His work has been featured in The Good Men Project, Gravel, P.S. I Love You, and the ICCFA funeral trade magazine, and in the anthologies Just a Little More Time, We Came to Say, and We Came Back to Say. He is seeking a publisher for his memoir.










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Aging with Confidence


3rd Act magazine | fall 2019


Courage for Christmas BY KRISTI SMITH


t was well after Thanksgiving, and I was still sleeping in the living room. Stunned by grief, I just couldn’t imagine sleeping in the king-size bed now that the king was dead. My husband had died suddenly in early October and since then the floral sofa had become my sanctuary. Waiting for the courage to move back in to the master bedroom, I crawled on to the couch each night and gently wrapped myself up in a cocoon of blankets for comfort. Deep down, I knew it was time to create a safe haven for my broken

heart. But, deeper down, I also knew I couldn’t do it alone. I needed help. Asking for it felt extremely vulnerable, but equally essential. I was already raw with emotions and seeking help was the last thing I wanted to do. However, when Mike died, everyone had said, “If you or the girls need anything, just let us know.” It was time to ask for help. To create my haven, the first step was to get rid of that oversized mattress. I wanted to find the bed a new home, so I asked a young newlywed couple if they could help by taking it. They came and hauled the

king-sized bed to their honeymoon suite. They were thrilled, and I was relieved. Step one, done. I ordered a queen-sized mattress—I was still the queen! After picking out spa colors, I asked my handyman friend to paint the walls. He also hung new curtains while I went shopping and selected the softest bedding I could find: rich, warm velvets and worn, handmade quilts. And lots and lots of pillows. This relocation project would require more than the usual number of pillows! I even splurged on new bedside lamps and several whimsical accents. Suddenly, the room felt magical. I was ready to move back in and reclaim my space when I remembered the closet. Initially, having Mike’s clothes hanging on the opposite side of mine was comforting, as if he still lived there. The smell of his cologne lingered on his dress shirts and his shiny black shoes were all lined up as if he were ready to go to work. Eventually, the sight of these things began to hurt my heart. That’s when you know you need to do something. When what used to bring you comfort now hurts, something has to change. Instinctively, I knew boxing up Mike’s clothes would be the final



As the holiday season nears, there is a safe online community designed to help people process the various challenges of widowhood. If you or someone you know needs help, contact The Widows Project at TheWidowsProject.org or call 844-4WIDOWS (844-494-3697) for more information. The Widows Project is a faith-based non-profit headquartered in Everett.


3rd Act magazine | fall 2019


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burial. Even though physically I could do the work, emotionally, I needed the support. I considered friends and family who could help until I settled on my sister-in-law. Melissa was a professional organizer and would be perfect for the job. Later that week, she arrived with an empty van and a full cup of coffee. Relying on her expert suggestions, we created three categories: keep, let go, and just not sure what to do with. Diving in, we moved the things I wanted to keep to the closet in the guest room. The boxes of clothes to donate were loaded into her van for drop-off at donation sites on her way home. We bagged up the items I was still uncertain about and put them into storage to revisit at another time. By noon, half the closet was completely packed up and my heart felt stronger. I knew I had done some of the hardest work a widow has to do. I was very proud of myself and extremely grateful for all of the help. None of us can do this life alone. We all need help at some point. That Christmas, I gave myself the best possible present—a safe place to rest my weary body and ease my frayed nerves. But, more than that, I gave myself the gift of courage and comfort. I moved from the couch back into the bedroom. It was a journey of only 20 feet, but without help, it might as well have been a million miles.

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Aging with Confidence

3rd Act magazine | fall 2019



owned by the decedent are immediately frozen until the estate goes through probate. Even some accounts held in both names, such as Bob Smith and Mary Smith may be inaccessible for a while because they require both party’s signatures. If accounts are not being left to other heirs upon one partner’s death, make sure all of your accounts use an “or” instead of an “and” and are in joint ownership with “rights of survivorship.” BY DON MCDONALD This type of account can always be accessed by the survivor. Later, you can present a death certificate to have your spouse’s name removed THIS SUMMER MY FAMILY experienced an from the account. expected yet dispiriting loss. My stepfather (in One bit of advice after dealing with my reality, more of a father than my bio-dad) died after stepfather’s recent death: Order more death a long battle with cancer. He was an extraordinary certificates than you expect to use, because they man and his presence will be missed by many. While may be needed for all manner of accounts like his death didn’t come as a surprise, his loss was utilities, mortgages, cell phones, etc. devastating for my mother. I can only imagine how Next, go through all of your retirement much more painful it would have been accounts, including IRAs, if he had not created an estate plan. 401(k)s, 404(b)s, and so on, and There are a The death of a spouse is one of the make sure you have named a few simple most painful losses we will ever face. things you and beneficiary. This allows for a very Regardless of the condition of your your spouse can simple transfer of these assets relationship, when the person with to the named beneficiary when do right now whom you spent years or decades in going through probate. (The to make things intimate proximity passes, the beneficiary will need to present a easier when emotional toll alone is high. death certificate.) the inevitable According to the Holmes and Another simple way to avoid happens. Rahe stress scale (named for the two probating an asset in an estate psychiatrists who studied the effect of is to add a transfer-on-death stressful life events on thousands of people), nothing (TOD) or payable-on-death (POD) addendum is more stressful than the loss of a spouse. to the owner’s name on a variety of financial The host of the Losing a life partner is so traumatic that the instruments like bank or brokerage accounts. In nationally syndicated Don McDonald Show survivor can find it challenging to care for even some states you can even title real estate as TOD. for over 20 years, their basic needs—and the surviving spouse also Finally, create a will or a trust. The process can Don now co-hosts Talking Real Money faces a host of complex financial challenges after be quite simple and reasonably priced—unless with Tom Cock on their partner’s death. you have a complex estate. Dying without a Seattle’s KOMO radio Saturdays at noon The process of sorting through all the fiscal plan—“intestate”—means that no matter what (talkingrealmoney.com). issues looming after a partner’s death is far too you wanted, the state will decide where your Don also publishes the complex to address in detail in this brief column. assets will go based on that state’s intestacy laws. investing magazine, real investing journal However, there are a few simple things you and Surveys show that a significant percentage of (realinvestingjournal. your spouse can do right now to make things older Americans still have no estate plan. If you’re com). easier when the inevitable happens. among this group, imagine how you would feel if Start by looking at your bank accounts. This is you were the one faced with both overwhelming the money you will need access to immediately. grief and the complexities of sorting out your Death—and the survivor’s life thereafter—can spouse’s estate. Having an estate plan in place is be expensive. In most cases, bank accounts solely the last, best gift you can give your loved ones.

The Financial Impact of Losing a Spouse


3rd Act magazine | fall 2019


Don’t miss a single issue! (But you can still order back issues if you did.) SUMMER 2019



50 Ways to Thrive

Time to Take Charge A Dementia Diagnosis Sparks Action

Happiness Why We Get Happier with Age


10 Wisdom for a Grandson

Modern Matchmaking

Life as Poetry

Tess Gallagher on Creativity, Vitality, and Resilience

FEAR AGING? You’re Not Alone

NO BAD BREAKS Bone Up on Osteoporosis

TECHNOLOGY WE LOVE It’s Not Rocket Science


It’s Never Too Late to Date

Art Without Borders


Parting with a Home You Love

HOUSE SHARING An Option Worth Considering

What We Hold Dear

A City for Everyone

Affirming Our Shared Common Values

Raising Grandkids It’s on the Rise

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3rd Act magazine | fall 2019





THE BRITISH CONSIDER THEM “sleeping police officers.” In Mexico, there’s no advance warning that what are known as topes will attack your vehicle’s undercarriage with a vengeance. In the Florida town of Lantana, the state ethics commission last year found probable cause that the mayor attempted to solicit sex from a constituent in exchange for installing neighborhood speed bumps. Ah, speed bumps, ever a source of controversy. Debates still rage over whether they’re a loss or a gain. Commercial parking lots and private roadways aren’t in any hurry to relinquish them. Yet plenty of cities no longer replace them when roadways need repaving. Speed bumps—or humps as they’re technically called on public roadways—were first nicknamed “Holly humps” in 1953 when they were invented by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Arthur Holly Compton. Although he played a role in the development of the nation’s first nuclear weapons, Compton didn’t win any prizes for his Holly humps, which haven’t turned out to be the traffic upgrade he may have envisioned.


3rd Act magazine | fall 2019

Take Everett, for example, where the average speed was reduced by only 1 mph or less with the installation of speed humps, according to city traffic engineer Tim Miller. “Our research shows people drive faster between speed humps, negating any expected traffic calming,” he says. Lots of other factors led to Everett’s decision not to replace its speed humps. Portland, ME, reported a delay of 13 seconds per speed hump when ambulances transport patients, causing more deaths and permanent injuries. Based on how they slow emergency response time, speed humps also were outlawed in Broward County in Florida. Speed humps conflict with bike lanes, add higher maintenance costs for fire engines, create more noise, make snow plowing a challenge, sometimes impact property values, and can result in lawsuits from those with disabilities, according to Miller. Tyler Cowen, professor of economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, considers the speed bump to be Stone Age technology. The speed bump dispute, Cowen suggests, pits smooth transport and progress against protecting privacy and comfortable communities. There are those who see speed bumps as metaphors for just about anything you can imagine. Some plastic surgeons describe tired areas under the lower eyelids as speed bumps. There’s a fellow with advice on how to overcome speed bumps in the baking business. A business consultant says curbing your impatience helps eliminate your speed bumps to success. Overcome? Eliminate? The demise of the speed bump appears to encompass even the metaphorical. One of the earliest haters of the speed hump was the late Howard Hughes, who must have cursed its invention. When a woman was in his car, this eccentric playboy instructed his chauffeur to go no faster than 2 mph when he saw a hump in the road, then slowly crawl over the obstruction to avoid jiggling a woman’s breasts. Otherwise, Hughes feared, those boobies would soon begin to sag from all the dastardly humps. Hold on! Here comes one. Annie Culver developed a knack for unearthing oddball characters and improbable events as a staff writer for various newspapers. In the early 1990s, she went to work for websites where she wrote sassy essays aimed at women, then she morphed into a writer for several universities in the Northwest. She is retired, yet she still enjoys freelancing.


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3rd Act magazine | fall 2019


My Best Friend’s

Face-lift Imagine this: You’re getting your hair done,

Priscilla Charlie Hinckley has been a writer and producer in Seattle television and video for 35 years, with a primary interest in stories covering health and medicine, women’s and children’s issues, social justice, and education. She enjoys taking a light-hearted approach to serious topics.


adding a little color to hide the gray, sitting in front of a big mirror. You’re talking to your stylist, who’s 30 years old and has perfect features. It’s easy to Post-surgery, make comparisons, to wonder, hmmm, should I Peggy says she has have a little work done on my face? My best friend “no regrets.” turned those thoughts into action, and I followed her through the process. Peggy Beller was beautiful in high school and never really lost that. At 65, though, she didn’t like what she was seeing in the mirror. Mostly, she was bothered by the way her mouth and chin to something much more extensive. looked. “I just felt like the lower part of my face After the initial examinations, Naficy explains, was more wrinkly and prune-ish than the rest of “We thought she had sagging of her brow, her lower it,” she remembers. She thought it would be great face and neck; she had lost some of the volume to get some filler for those areas, maybe a around her face, around her cheeks, temples, BY little bit of cosmetic surgery. Her goal was PRISCILLA and mouth. She had extra skin around to look better, not necessarily younger, and her upper eyelids; deep lines around her CHARLIE not “different.” She wanted subtle changes. HINCKLEY mouth and eyes. She had wrinkles related The first step was finding the right to collagen loss and loss of elasticity.” They surgeon. Peggy met Dr. Sam Naficy through her also felt she had good bone structure, realistic extended family, then researched his professional expectations, and a good attitude—important for background, checked patient reviews, and looked a successful outcome. at before-and-after photos of his patients. “I felt he Peggy and the team discussed a combination was the best in the area,” she says. of brow lift, lower face and neck lift, upper eyelid We went together to Peggy’s appointments at work, and laser resurfacing around her eyes and Naficy Plastic Surgery & Rejuvenation Center in mouth. The plan also included injecting about eight Bellevue. It was different from the usual doctor’s teaspoons of her belly fat into the area around her office décor of basic chairs and a few magazines. temples, cheeks, and mouth to increase volume. There was a tray of bottled water and fruit in the It would all be done in one session, under general waiting room, a video screen with attractive postanesthesia. Following surgery, it would be two surgery photos, and receptionists with great hair weeks until she was “socially presentable,” and and make-up. Even the exam room had a pretty a month before she would look pretty much sofa and chairs. back to normal. The appointment ended with an Over two appointments, Peggy went from her explanation of potential risks and how the team first vague idea of getting “fillers” around her mouth would minimize them.

3rd Act magazine | fall 2019


Peggy gave a thumbs-up to all procedures. It was going to be expensive, because insurance doesn’t cover cosmetic surgery, but she was ready for that. She scheduled her surgery, and the front desk staff gave us chocolates on our way out. On surgery day, I took Peggy to the clinic and picked her up about six hours later. Everything had gone well, the surgical team said, and they explained the care she’d need for the night, before her followup appointment the next morning. Her head was bandaged, her face was swollen, and she looked like a scary Santa Claus. For the next two days, while everything hurt and her eyes were swollen almost shut, Peggy kept saying, “I shouldn’t have put myself through this.” (Note to future patients: Have a friend nearby to tell you that it won’t hurt forever and you’re going to look great soon.) A month later, Peggy and her husband traveled to New York, and she was healed enough not to feel self-conscious. Two months after surgery, she felt almost completely back to normal. Her face is still settling; there’s some tightness in places and a bit of scarring around her ears that will fade over time, but she really does look great…and a little different. If you’re thinking about facial rejuvenation, there are a lot of options. Naficy identifies four issues: • Sagging or drooping skin can be lifted with surgery. • Volume loss, or deflation, can be treated with fillers or a patient’s own fat. • Skin elasticity and tone can be improved with laser resurfacing. • Age-related expressions, like frown lines, can be treated with Botox. “Most people want to look better and want to look natural,” says Naficy. While many people start with one treatment and perhaps add others later, “sometimes making a natural result requires doing

Aging with Confidence

something everywhere” at the same time. In Peggy’s case, for example, the team felt that her face would not be in harmony if she only treated the lower half. If you do choose cosmetic surgery, it’s very important to research your surgeon. Ask about: • Board certification. • Specific training in plastic surgery. • Number of procedures performed, of the type you’ll have. • National or state accreditation of the surgical facility. • Before-and-after photos of the same procedure you’ll have. Risks for surgery include reactions to anesthesia, bleeding, scars that don’t heal as well as expected, and numbness. Discuss these in your pre-surgical appointment. Before you have any procedure, talk with your surgeon about what you want surgery to do for you. Helping a patient manage expectations is part of a good surgeon’s role.

On surgery day, I took Peggy to

the clinic and picked her up about six hours later. Everything had gone well. “We tell people they’ll look better; we’ll set the clock back maybe 8 years, maybe 12 years. But then the rate of aging continues,” says Naficy. It’s not a one-and-done type of process, he says; you may decide you need some additional treatment, but “the result of setting the clock back stays with you.” As for Peggy, she says there are “no regrets.” She likes the way her neck and chin look, along with the skin around her mouth and her smooth forehead. And her favorite part is the one she never considered in the beginning. “I like my eyes best!”

3rd Act magazine | fall 2019


But not the tracks of time. Mom had been a lovely woman in her youth. She still was lovely, only tempered by years. Her horse laugh, famous in our family (which I inherited, with thanks), carved deep laugh lines. She hated them. To me, those proved she had one hell of a sense of humor. So do I. It was years before I unleashed it, along with all the other pent-up emotions that fear of aging caused me to do my best to avoid. I am now the same age as my mother when she gazed so disapprovingly at her forehead. The other day I was looking at a selfie I’d taken during a trip to Canada. (I don’t do that much, but when you can’t find a fellow photographer, you’re on your own.) Ten years ago, my face was still pretty smooth. Then, I got into adventure travel: live-outloud, madcap stupidly wonderful adventures from climbing very large gopher holes (Mount “GAH. Another wrinkle.” My mother stared Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya) to kayaking the at herself in the mirror, angry and frustrated. Arctic to riding horses all over the world. At nearly 70, she hated the onslaught on her onceNow I’m looking at a face that has lived. smooth cheeks. To her, aging was the arch-enemy, Laughed. Loved (unsuccessfully, but look, the Evil One. BY JULIA I tried). Those magnificent stories are all From her I learned to fear wrinkles. She HUBBEL over my mug. would put her thumb against my forehead My mother, may she float over my head without between my eyes and press down hard, trying to a walking stick in hand, would not approve. erase frown lines. She harangued me about laugh However, I’ve noticed that when I finally lines. lightened up, started laughing, started living, and For years, I neither frowned nor laughed. stopped being in terror of time, I sure had a lot In other words, I didn’t live, either. more friends. I did live in fear of any proof that my face had The love? Look, I’m working on that. gathered experience. My mother’s messaging At least now, I love my face. implied that if I had wrinkles, I was unlovable. I love the stories written upon it. Perfection in Nobody would want me. Marry me. Even like me. any form, while lovely, doesn’t always invite love. Look, I had all those problems and a lot more and Admiration, maybe. The way I admire 88-year-old none of them had anything to do with expression supermodel Carmen Dell’Orefice, but I’m not sure lines. I’d want to know her. Eventually Mom’s eyesight dimmed, so she I want to know the woman in my mirror. picked another archenemy: the single long hair I love that face. that grew out of her chin, which drove her nuts. Yours, too, Mom. That, at least, I could remove for her.

AFull Face of Life

Every line tells a story of adventure

Julia Hubbel is a prize-winning journalist, professional speaker, and international adventure traveler. Her work takes her on extraordinary solo adventures all over the globe. She is a disabled, decorated Vietnam Era veteran who served as a journalist and television producer-director in the Army and as chief of military protocol for the Jimmy Carter Presidential Inaugural.


3rd Act magazine | fall 2019


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3rd Act magazine | fall 2019


RESILIENCE I’ve often thought that growing old is rather like adolescence; like teens, older people seem to change at their own pace. You may notice some friends slowing down sooner than expected, while others continue to be quite active well into their 80s and 90s. They continue to travel, play music, ski, attend church, learn new computer tricks, and take on many other life-affirming activities. At first glance, you might think the active agers have lived “charmed lives.” Everything goes their way. But dig deeper and you hear about the setbacks common to most people. Many have been widowed, survived war, accidents, job losses, illnesses, and other misfortunes. And yet, they continue to thrive. What makes such long, active lives possible? Is it genetics? Healthy habits? Good health care? A great attitude? A combination of all these BY DR. ERIC things? B. LARSON Questions like these have fueled much of my research at the University of Washington and Kaiser Permanente. In our longitudinal study of aging, called Adult Changes in Thought or ACT, my colleagues and I have collected data on more than 5,000 study participants over many decades. We study differences between those who develop dementia and those who don’t. From this, we learn how the body—and especially the brain— changes over time. Our findings—along with discoveries from scientists worldwide—have made me realize there are no magic bullets, no fountains of youth. But there is one quality common among many who age well and happily: resilience, which is the capacity to adapt and grow stronger in the face of adversity or stress. Resilient people are like trees in the wind that don’t break, but bend. They have the strength and flexibility



3rd Act magazine | fall 2019

to stay healthy or bounce back from illness and other challenges. Where does resilience come from? My own observation tells me that resilient people typically follow a “PATH” that can be described with this three-part mnemonic: P FOR PRO-ACTIVITY: They take charge of their health and happiness by preventing illness and managing chronic conditions that may develop. They partner with their health care providers, sharing important decisions, and getting care that’s just right for them—not too little and not too much. A FOR ACCEPTANCE: They understand that change will come with age, which allows them to approach the future with equanimity and mindfulness, in large part by understanding their own values. Acceptance often leads people to seek more meaning, fulfillment, and purpose in life as they grow older. They keep contributing to the world through work, volunteerism, and hobbies. TH FOR THREE RESERVOIRS: Those with resilience build reserves of well-being in three ways—mentally, physically, and socially. They develop mental reserve by fostering, protecting, and enhancing brain function. Their physical reserves include a healthy heart, strong bones and muscles, and good vision and hearing. Building social reserves means having adequate financial resources, as well as a strong network of friends and family they enjoy spending time with and can depend on. While the distance yet ahead cannot be measured, following the interrelated steps on this PATH toward resilience may help you lead a happier, healthier life along the way. Dr. Eric B. Larson is a senior investigator at Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute and former vice president for research and health care innovation a t K a i s e r Pe r m a n e n te Washington. He is author of Enlightened Aging: Building Resilience for a Long, Active Life (Rowman & Littlef ield, 2017).


Aging with Confidence

3rd Act magazine | fall 2019


“I am placing my glasses on the dining room table.” Think it with intent. Reinforce what you’ve said a minute or two later. “My glasses are on the dining room table.” Sounds silly, talking to yourself. But it’s effective. Very effective. It puts your brain on notice. USE THE ASSOCIATION TECHNIQUE

Good Intentions,



f what you see and hear as you casually go through your day no longer sticks with you, don’t be casual. Be intentional. Tell your brain you are giving it information. Talk to yourself. Tell your memory to pay attention. Let your mind know what you’re up to. Intentionality is the single most important way to maintain and improve your recall. Pick out five or ten of the most important things worth noting. Where you parked the car. Why you are going to the store or to the kitchen.


3rd Act magazine | fall 2019

What does that mean? Link new information to what you already know. Perhaps the best way to explain is to provide a few examples. You’re at a party. The hostess introduces you to Linda. You decide you want to remember her name. You’ve listened carefully. You can only remember what you actually grasp. Repeat the name. “Hi Linda, nice to meet you.” Use association techniques so you’ll be able to recall who she is the next time you meet. You happen to have an old friend named Linda. Picture the new Linda and your old friend engaged in some exaggerated activity. Putting up silly decorations before the party begins. Or working in the kitchen cooking food for a party (and making a giant mess), or having an argument right in the middle of the living room as the guests observe them. Linda vs. Linda. Make the scene hilarious, or crazy wild. You can be as indiscreet as you’d like. No one gets to know the details that you’ve created. Links are mini-stories that can be pictured. You remember them because they are unusual, fanciful, exaggerated—memorable. It is their very excess that make them easy to recall. Suppose you don’t have an old friend named Linda? Associate your new acquaintance with a TV star, author, or politician who goes by that name. Coming up with a little story when you want to plant something into your memory sounds like a great deal of work, but without much practice, you can learn to manufacture scenarios quickly. Be creative. Let yourself go! There are numerous easily mastered association tricks you can use to keep track of your daily schedule, your shopping list,


the names of movies you want to see—of any information you want to access once it’s been placed in your memory. The library is filled with titles and websites that teach you how to do this. Ask your librarian for books about mnemonics. (That’s a fancy term for association.)

You can Google-research just about any topic. Got the name? OK. Don’t simply read the name on the computer screen. Reenter the information into the active section of your memory using techniques of association. Relearn it. Were you trying to recall the name Lake George? OK, picture George Clooney swimming RELEARN WHAT YOU’VE FORGOTTEN You can no longer remember the name of a certain in that lake. You can put a young version of movie, or song, or historical figure. Gone. You used yourself on the beach. George forgot his trunks. That could be in the mental picture. to know, but if such details are still If what you Or, maybe he’s being pursued by embedded in your mind, you can’t see and hear an alligator. Perhaps the alligator get to them. There are ways to jar is wearing swimming trunks. such facts back into consciousness. as you casually go through Make it goofy. Make it memorable. But if we are talking about general, You are switching from casual researchable knowledge—the name your day no (natural) memory to intentional of the lake you used to visit when you longer sticks memory. Doing so is not effort free. were a kid, the actress who starred with you, don’t But it’s a whole lot easier than you’d in the 1950s version of a particular be casual. imagine. Imagine. Imagination. movie, the auto manufacturer that Be intentional. ceased production when you were Use your imagination. This learning to drive, why pound on your head trying technique will help you gain access to whatever to get the details to pop out? you wish to recall—and stir the creative juices in Start by doing what everyone does: Google it. your mind.

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Charles E. Kraus lives, writes, and remembers in Seattle. The author of five books, he has been published by leading newspapers, appeared on 75 radio and TV shows, and written and performed on numerous audios and videos. He has worked with major sports and entertainment figures, and he is the recipient of a Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award and the Bronze Star. Contact him at charles@ booksandlectures. com

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Aging with Confidence

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3rd Act magazine | fall 2019




I know this to be true, because I meet all the criteria for addiction: • I can’t stop, even when I tell myself, “just one or two.” • I’ve skipped work and made excuses why I can’t be there. • I’ve neglected obligations. I’ve lost friends. I have feelings of guilt and experienced withdrawal symptoms. • I start in before noon, sometimes even as soon as I wake up. • I have obsessive thoughts about wanting more and feeling that there’s never enough. Is there is a 12-step program for my addiction? Nope. And there shouldn’t be. I’m an addict but in a good way. Pickleball is my addiction and rather than feel shame and remorse, I’m grateful for my dependence. I haven’t destroyed any families, or killed anyone on the pickleball court. Yet. Pickleball is actually one of the fastest growing sports in the world. A combination of tennis, ping-pong, and badminton, it’s becoming the sport of choice for seniors as well as kids of all ages. And yeah, it’s addictive. I have the gene. After all, I’m the adult child of two ping-pong, paddle tennis, and handball playing parents. Growing up, my mother dragged me to the paddle tennis courts in Santa Monica, back in the days of the old Sand and Sea Club on Pacific Coast Highway. I was too little to play, so I watched and ate tuna fish sandwiches and potato chips courtside. Mom was crazily competitive and I loved seeing the determined look on her tanned face as she smashed the tennis ball at her opponents. She’d check on me between matches to make sure I wasn’t bored out of my mind. Eventually, as a young teen, I figured I may as well start playing. And I did. I loved it. My dad played four-wall handball anywhere he could. I was never allowed to play with him. That game was dangerous with its small, hard, fast ball. Paddle tennis and ping-pong were less scary for my small self. By the way, he’s 101 years old. Health benefits, maybe? We always had a ping-pong table. Although we moved a lot, everywhere we set up residence, he made sure there was a ping-pong table in our backyard. I feel like I was raised on a ping-pong table. Years later, I won a trophy for best ping-pong player on a Carnival cruise. I know, I know … But really, it was a challenging win, since the ship was pitching and rolling as I played in the tournament. Never mind that most of my opponents were in various stages of seasickness or inebriation or both. Aging with Confidence

I played competitive tennis in high school, and I was the youngest member of the girls varsity tennis team. Although I loved tennis, I never became obsessed with it, like I have with pickleball. I loved ping-pong most of my adult life, but yearned for a more active, physically exerting sport. I absolutely hated the gym, but forced myself to go. Exercise was torturous, endless drudgery, to be endured, never enjoyed. And then, one day, while walking my dog along the boardwalk by Muscle Beach in Venice Beach, CA, I stopped to watch the paddle tennis players. Longingly, I wished I could play again, but they were mostly young men fiercely pounding the ball as hard as they could, swearing, sweating, and yelling. They looked scary. And I felt like a beginner again after not playing anything other than pingpong for decades. Way outta my league. Then I saw a woman giving a lesson. I asked if she was a teacher and if she could give me a refresher course. We set up a time to meet for my first paddle tennis lesson as a grown-up! And yes, at 65, I’m finally a grown-up. It felt great to be back on the court playing again. But I was completely exhausted and spent after the first 20 minutes. Over the next few weeks, I took two more lessons with Sonia. On the last day, she asked me if I’d ever played pickleball. No, I answered, but I’d heard of it. She pointed to the back two courts. “Those people are playing pickleball. It’s really fun. You’d like it—it’s addicting.” I showed up the next day, timidly admitting that I’d never played this ridiculously named game. I had no paddle or ball. The very friendly pickleballers welcomed me. I didn’t have much trouble hitting the ball and keeping it in play, but I was completely frustrated by the rules and scoring. I didn’t understand a thing. But I stayed and played for a few hours. Leaving the court that day, my head was spinning. Too many rules. I’ll never remember all this. I was ready to quit before I’d really started. And then the addictive gene kicked in and a little voice said to me “just go tomorrow and try it again.” Same thing the next day. And the next. Still borrowing a paddle and messing up on the scoring and rules, I persevered. The pickleballers were kind and encouraging, and they said “keep coming back.” (Almost like a 12-step meeting.) So I did. Why? Well, here’s why. Pickleball is easily accessible and encourages socialization because it’s carefree and fun. (Unlike golf for example—ugh). It also: • Lowers the risk of heart disease and depression—it’s a natural mood-booster. • Makes life richer and happier and fights feelings of isolation and loneliness. (CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE)

3rd Act magazine | fall 2019


ILY LL IS EAS PICKLEBA LE AND ACCESSIB ES SOCIALIZATION G So, we became Zen-pickleballers, breathing and focusing ENCOURA ’S CAREFREE IT E S U A on each other and staying only in the present moment. C E B . N U F It worked. We won the next match. And the next. After AND • Keeps your mind sharp and helps with memory issues. (Scorekeeping is tricky.) • Meets fitness goals easily and enhances interpersonal connections. • Improves reflexes, balance, and range of motion which minimizes risks of arthritis. It’s a game of equality, making no distinctions between the sexes, nor for social status, race, or ability. So yeah, am I addicted? I’ve skipped work to play, but really, I’m practicing for retirement. Have I lost friends? Not really. They think it’s hilarious. They get it even though they may not really get it. (That is, until I get them on the court.) And I’ve gained an entirely new community of people as gleefully addicted as me. Recently, I played in my first tournament with my partner, Chris. It was a double elimination tourney, and we lost our first mixed doubles match. If we lost the next, we’d be out for good. Placed in the “opportunity” bracket (a.k.a. losers), we knew we needed a new strategy.


seven hours of nearly continuous play, Chris and I won five consecutive matches to secure the gold medal. A thrilling and deeply meaningful victory! I’m in for more tournaments. Because I’m addicted. Have I neglected obligations? Oh yeah. But what’s more important than a good game? Everything else can wait: bills, taxes, laundry—mañana, I say. Do I have obsessive thoughts? Yep, but they’re easily rectified—grab my paddle and play! Can I stop after one or two? Yes, but no. There’s nothing like the sweet, sweaty exhaustion I feel after four or more. Doubles, that is. I certainly don’t have feelings of guilt, but I have withdrawal symptoms, and if I feel like starting in before noon—sometimes even as soon as I wake up—then I give in. And as far as I’m concerned, for someone with the addiction gene, I just have one word for pickleball. Cool!. Stephanie Blank is a published writer and storyteller. Her work has been featured in The Los Angeles Times, English Composition for College Students (McGraw Hill), and soon to be in Chicken Soup for the Soul, “Think positive, live happy.” She tells her stories at Beyond Baroque, in Venice, CA.

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Late-life anxiety is real for many I struggled to appear normal, hoping people. For me, it showed up no one would notice my crumpling unexpectedly as I headed toward my insides. But gradually, my attitudes retirement years, arriving as quickly and perceptions of the disorder began as flipping on a light switch. to change. At age 60, I became consumed The bullish face of anxiety by how my husband and I would As a disclaimer, I’ll say here that live our remaining years. Everyone anxiety is a complicated disorder and in our family—including parents, there could be chemical imbalances uncles, aunts, and one sibling—had or another disease which cause died, and we had shifted to the top of similar symptoms. Someone with the “to be departed” list. severe anxiety should seek the help BY BETSY WISE Dying wasn’t the problem. Facing of a medical professional. But here, the unknown was. And I wasn’t for the sake of brevity, are some of alone: According to the National Center for Biotechnology the anxiety symptoms I confronted. Information, one in four older adults experiences late-life Dizziness, chest pain, neck tension, fear, nausea, shortness of anxiety. But as anxiety takes hold, it can be difficult to connect breath, brain zaps, heart palpitations, insomnia, crazy feelings the dots. and sensations, muscle weakness and twitching, feeling unsafe, I blamed panic episodes on a job from hell, yet anxiety had crawly and itchy skin, changes in eyesight, excess energy, existed inside me long before it surfaced while working. Now, panic attacks, weight changes, brain fog, ringing in the ears, though, the battle was on as symptoms ran rampant. Each day self-consciousness, memory loss, depression, and repetitive

What to do when worries seem insurmountable

Aging with Confidence

3rd Act magazine | fall 2019


thoughts that wouldn’t turn off … Symptoms are far-reaching and vary by person. The feelings and sensations are real and overwhelming. Uneasiness can be all-consuming and then suddenly, out of the blue, it disappears. I’d go to bed feeling fine and think “This is finally over” to wake up the next day in a panic. Anxiety instilled fear and convinced me that I was stuck in life. I felt like a fool because I couldn’t get beyond the pain. I was so close but so far from a solution. I was numb. Ultimately, I didn’t approach anxiety with a “10-step plan and then you’re done” mentality. Instead, I asked myself this question: If I owned a pet pig that ran from a mud hole onto my white carpet, what would I do? Would I pet its head and say, “Nice piggy,” or would I grab a broom and chase it out of the house? Eventually, that’s how I faced anxiety. Instead of coping with anxiety, I made up my mind to triumph over it.

may have trouble receiving criticism. Sometimes they have low self-esteem, but not always. Everyone identifies with these characteristics, and we all experience anxiety from time to time. But when overwhelming anxiety prevented me from enjoying my retirement life, I knew I had a problem. Anxiety needed a shove In all honesty, I never saw any progress overcoming anxiety until I grew weary of living with the thoughts inside my head. Controlling thoughts and emotions are central to living successfully without anxiety. Anxiety doesn’t go away on its own. I’m here to tell you—living free without anxiety takes work. If you don’t intend to work hard, anxiety continues to be a familiar enemy disguised as your pet pig. Eventually, I began to recognize the chatter in my head for what it was. I took control over the replay of incessant contemplations about the what-ifs in life. What if … a terrorist detonates a bomb in a mall. I can’t pay my bills. People start to notice I can’t cope. A natural disaster destroys my home. I end up living on the streets. These types of thoughts fueled anxiety. I realized that I control what plays in my head. For example, this is how I overcame insomnia. At bedtime, I repeated any of these words—rest, peace, be still, sleep. As I retrained my mind, some nights it still took 12 hours to get 6 hours of sleep. I applied a similar technique for emotions. Nervous energy and an unsettled disposition are preludes to rampant anxious thoughts. Conditioned responses to situations can take hold unless I stay tuned in to my thoughts. I choose what I meditate on. The root source of anxiety—fear—did not surface for me until adversity reached a new level in my life, one I couldn’t handle. When I found myself in a pit of anxious despair, I had no experience to draw on. Once I recognized and controlled anxious thoughts, I made steady progress. Guess what? As an aging adult, I learned to win this shoving match by shifting my focus. I renewed my mind and monitored the what-if thoughts before they overtook me. As I said, I had work to do, but I ran the anxiety bully out of my life. If anxiety tries to return, I know what to do.

Controlling thoughts and emotions are central to living successfully without anxiety.

Anxiety and personality Anxiety isn’t a disorder until it wrecks your life and you can’t f unction. According to t he AnxietyCentre.com website, the disorder is not “a medical, biological, chemical, or genetic problem.” Instead, responding apprehensively to life causes psychological, physiological, and emotional symptoms. It didn’t help that I came from a family of worriers. Here are some characteristics of people who suffer from anxiety:

• Fearful: For constant worriers, topics can include family members, health concerns, concern about the death of loved ones, financial concerns, and relationships. • People pleaser: Trouble saying no to requests by family members and friends. Caring way too much about what others think. Wanting friends and fearing rejection. • Perfectionist: Worriers can be creative multi-taskers, but they fear mistakes. • Uncertain: Must be in control to prevent bad things from happening. They prepare for the worst to avoid being caught off guard. May not easily deal with changes. • High expectations: Anxious people feel guilty unless they’re doing something, so they put off resting. They envision answers to problems before they ever happen. • Self-centered: In addition to “stuffing” feelings, an anxious person may be impatient, may not like compliments, and


3rd Act magazine | fall 2019

Betsy Wise has been a freelance writer since 2013 and currently blogs regularly at her website, WritingForJesus.com.


Aging with Confidence

3rd Act magazine | fall 2019



The impulse to commit suicide can strike anyone. Successful people who think of themselves as survivors are not immune. “I kept telling myself, ’I have the plan. Now execute it,’” confesses James “Dukes” Donaldson. He’s a former Supersonic and NBA AllStar, accomplished in many endeavors. But he didn’t seem destined to become a beloved athlete. Mentors helped him develop his 3-D approach: desire, dedication, and discipline. James’ eyes become soft and expressive retelling how people helped the formerly shy and overweight boy become a star. To ease James’ self-consciousness, his high school coach Chuck Calhoun would paper over the windows during basketball practice.

SUICIDEXERCISE! Washington State University Coach George Raveling pressed the keys to the gym into James’ hand and held him personally accountable for becoming the best player he could be. Yet this very ability to drive hard toward a goal almost turned deadly. Lesser-known people are affected, too. Karen is an affable woman. Strong and determined, she joined the highway department after her service in the military. Women were rare in the department, but she earned trust and promotions time and again. The roads were more than a gritty workplace to her. Karen sometimes handed out packs of cigarettes to the homeless people she encountered, and she taped wildflower seed packets to the backs of the packs. The California poppies you see blooming alongside an underpass just might be her doing. It might seem startling that the roads she cared for could enter Karen’s thoughts as a means of self-destruction. Yet ordinary objects become sinister for someone plagued with suicidal thoughts: The endless road barriers along I-5 called out to her as she imagined how she’d die. At a certain point in despair, the decision to commit suicide can be strangely calming. “It is the only right decision,” recounts Karen as she remembers those dark days. If suicidal thoughts reach the action stage, and the means are at hand, the statistics are alarming. There were 1,297 suicide deaths in Washington in 2017, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention—one every seven hours. Men, especially veterans, tend to choose more lethal and violent means. Though women die from their attempts four times less frequently than males, women make three times as many


3rd Act magazine | fall 2019


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tries at suicide, according to the Pacific Northwest Suicide Prevention Resource Center. But suicidal impulses can be defeated, and exercise is one surprisingly powerful way to a happier life. For both Karen and James, brain chemistry had become abnormal. A combination of accumulated stressors, poor sleep, anxieties, depression, and isolation affected the natural function of their brains. Chemically, low mood is marked by decreased norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin. Lack of norepinephrine makes a person feel foggy or dull. Dopamine and serotonin are both key to a feeling of well-being. Exercise re-regulates over 100 chemical processes in the brain. It reduces the stress hormone cortisol. It increases norepinephrine, which wakes up the brain and drives alertness. Dopamine jump-starts focus, and serotonin gives impulse control. Both are triggered by exercise. Exercise can also reduce panic attacks and anxiety, adjusting both the habits of the mind and the chemistry of the brain. Depression, diagnosed or not, can lead to deadly isolation. It’s a vicious cycle because loneliness can also be a major predictor of depression. Group exercise programs are offered in gyms, churches, community centers, and even hospitals. When you attend regularly, people will count on you to come and you can feel less lonely. Moderate exercise is best. A moderate cardio class will elevate your heartrate and give you a little glow. You should still be able to talk with classmates in short sentences. If you are panting for air, slow down. Try for 30 minutes a day, five days a week. If you are suicidal—seek help. Find a trusted Ensure that professional to guide you through the crisis.

exercise is in your survival plan. Committing to an exercise program helps keep brain chemistry balanced.

• Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). • Remove anything associated with your plan. Dispose of unnecessary medications. To find out where, refer to TakeBackYourMeds.org. Lock up firearms, or ask a neighbor to hold them. Store ammunition in a different location.


Creating a safer world for our grandchildren and theirs through legislation, education and research. We speak up, stand up and show up!

• Write down and share a survival plan. Tips can be found at VeryWellMind.com. Ensure that exercise is in your survival plan. Committing to an exercise program helps keep brain chemistry balanced. It has worked for Karen and James, who have paired daily workouts with professional guidance and medications to feel safe and positive about the future. Suicidal thoughts don’t have to be the beginning of the end. Help is available, and the next move is yours. Coach Lisa Stuebing is a recognized leader in older adult fitness. As a medical exercise specialist, her emphasis is in brain health, chronic pain management, and movement disorders. In addition to seeing private clients in their homes, she teaches for the Brain Injury Alliance of Washington and gives talks on behalf of both the Arthritis Foundation and the American Heart Association | American Stroke Association. Contact her at CoachLisa@MudPuddleFitness.com.

Aging with Confidence


GrandmothersAgainstGunViolence.org 4111 E. Madison Street, #153 Seattle, WA 98112

3rd Act magazine | fall 2019


Be Chill, My Heart The Science Behind Heartbreak and How to Cope With It By Connie McDougall It’s a privilege to grow older. It’s also pretty much a losing proposition. Inevitably, there will be gut-punch losses—of loved ones, health, maybe finances, definitely looks—the list is long and sure. Loss can even kill, via the now well-documented condition called broken heart syndrome. But before you take to your bed and pull the covers over your head, here’s the good news: The syndrome is rare and its cause is avoidable. Dr. Gopi Dandamudi, medical director of the Cardiovascular Service Line at CHI Franciscan, notes that broken heart syndrome appears to be directly tied to stress, and in fact goes by the name of stress-induced cardiomyopathy. “We think it’s caused by high levels of physical or emotional stress, related to excessive adrenaline in the bloodstream. That gets the heart pumping and working harder,” he says. “Maybe there’s a death in the family or someone has a heated argument with their spouse.” Within a few days,


3rd Act magazine | fall 2019

“It is not stress that kills us. It is our reaction to it.” —Hans Selye, the father of modern theories on stress they can show symptoms like those of a heart attack, like shortness of breath and chest pain. Although broken heart syndrome is potentially fatal, most people recover. “It’s very reversible,” says Dandamudi. “In two months, the heart is back to normal with no visible damage.” Ninety percent of patients with the ailment are post-menopausal women, but it remains unclear why. Thankfully, the problem isn’t common. “One to two percent of what presents as a heart attack ends up being this condition,” he says, noting that far more common in older adults—men and women—is a heart-rhythm problem called atrial fibrillation, which can lead to stroke. Prevention, while no guarantee, is preferred. “When you reduce stress, you reduce the heart’s fight-or-flight response to adrenaline,” Dandamudi says. But if chilling out were easy,

everyone would be laid back. How can you create calm, especially in trying circumstances? “You can’t think your way to it, and it takes practice,” says Jonathan Prescott, a Buddhist chaplain who founded Wise Caregiving, an organization that supports patients and their caregivers. As an ordained student of worldrenowned Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, Prescott has worked with patients in hospice, cancer care, and hospitals. He deeply experiences and understands the Buddhist doctrine of impermanence. “Nothing lasts forever,” Prescott says. “When people think of that they naturally go, ’Yuck,’ but I encourage them to sidle up to the idea and make friends with it,” he says. “Start small. That beautiful peach you brought home is overripe and now you can’t www.3rdActMag.com

Franciscan Hospice & Palliative Care eat it. Just notice.” And notice reactions to small, daily losses, frustrations, and annoyances. “By practicing, by being aware of how we respond to stress, we can retrain our responses to that stress,” Prescott adds. Prescott learned to watch his own anxiety when he’s with patients. “It’s easier to notice anxiety in my body rather than in my mind,” he says. “When I see that I’m rubbing my hands together, I realize I’m anxious. So I relax my hands and my anxiety relaxes along with them.” He advises adopting an attitude of allowing rather than fighting, resisting, or steeling ourselves to misfortune. “We may tell ourselves a story, that this shouldn’t happen or things shouldn’t be this way or I’ll never recover, all of which create stress,” he says. “When you allow things to be as they actually are, you develop the confidence that you can have pain and still be OK.” The omnipresent advice is to simply “let go,” but what does that even mean and how does one do that? “It’s about non-attachment, not grasping,” explains Prescott. “By that, I don’t mean disengagement, not living a vibrant life of enjoyment. Non-attachment means we don’t hold on for dear life but cherish things because they don’t last forever. They’re precious.” These practices will not insulate you from loss, he notes, but they may reduce the stress related to loss. “In fact, you feel more acutely—all of the hard things but also all of the beautiful things in your life.” Connie McDougall is a former news reporter and current freelance writer of nonfiction and personal essays. A lifelong student and proud English major, she has pursued lessons in flying, scuba diving, tai chi, Spanish, meditation, hiking, Zumba, and watercolor painting.

Aging with Confidence

Surrounding patients and their families with compassionate care when it’s needed most. Call today to talk with someone about how we can help you and your family.

1 (866) 969-7028 chifranciscan.org/hospice Serving Pierce, King and Kitsap counties


3rd Act magazine | fall 2019


What Your Grandchild Wants You to Know


very night before I go to bed, most. Our chats are often brief but, at I pick up the phone and dial a the end of the day, it means so much to seven-digit number more familiar than hear his voice on the other end of the line telling me he loves me. my own phone number. I call one of I feel lucky to have a close and my closest friends. “Hi Gramps,” I say when my grandpa supportive relationship with all my grandparents. I would answers. like to think it’s because I BY DALLAS “Hi Dally,” he replies, and WOODBURN am the “World’s Greatest I can almost hear the smile Grandchild”—but I know that in his voice. certainly isn’t the case. The truth is, Gramps and I have always been all of my grandparents make quite an extremely close. I grew up a threeeffort to be a part of my life. minute drive from his house, and Here are some things your he would often babysit my younger grandkids want to you know, so you brother and me on Mondays when can strengthen your relationship with both my parents were at work. I still affectionately call Gramps my “Monday them—whether you live near or far— starting as soon as you finish reading Guy.” I am even named after him: this article. Dallas is his middle name. When I was born three months prematurely, Gramps—who is a surgeon—phoned the doctors at the NICU 200 miles away every day to check up on me. The night after my grandmother Auden passed away, I phoned Gramps to say goodnight because I realized he wouldn’t hear those words from Auden any longer. I continued to do this every night, and now, 26 years later, our nightly phone conversation is one of the constants in my daily life I cherish


3rd Act magazine | fall 2019

TALK—AND LISTEN Tell your grandchildren stories about what life was like when you were their age. I treasure Gramps’ stories about his boyhood days—and about what my dad was like as a little kid. But Gramps also makes time to ask me about my life. He listens and later brings up tidbits in future conversations. He has also made a point to learn the names of my close friends so he can ask about them as well.

Just as importantly, Gramps allows me to be a part of his daily life by telling me about games with his poker buddies, lunch dates with friends, or things he read in the newspaper. Likewise, I talk to my Grandpap about his golf game and choir performances. With busy schedules, it may be unrealistic to talk to your grandchild every day like Gramps and I do, but if you make such connection a weekly or monthly habit, the hassles of daily life are less likely to get in the way and circumvent bonding time. I look forward to my Sunday evening calls to my maternal grandparents, and they have told me they do as well. Usually they expectantly pick up by the second ring! A LITTLE MAIL GOES A LONG WAY Technology give us many fantastic, simple ways to keep in touch, like texting and emailing. My Grandpap has a smartphone, and we text and send photos all the time. Texting is likely a means of communication your grandchildren are comfortable and familiar with. By making an attempt to stay in touch “on their turf,” you are showing you care enough to learn things “their way.” Not to say that old-fashioned snailmail letters aren’t a great way to keep in contact, too. It is always special to find a pen-and-paper letter waiting in your mailbox. When I was in college, my grandparents sent me letters with gift certificates to In’N’Out—to the envy of my dormmates! Unlike email, these letters never get deleted or lost on my computer or in “the cloud.” I save every one of them, and I know I will love having them to look back on and re-read as the years pass. ON THE SAME PAGE—LITERALLY What books do your grandchildren www.3rdActMag.com

enjoy? Maybe you can read a few of them and discuss them with your grandkids. My friend Erica got her grandma into Harry Potter, and now they swap books regularly. On the same note, give your grandchildren a copy of your favorite book growing up. I cherish Gramps’ worn hardcover Burgess Animal Books for Children that he read as a boy and later gave to me. My grandma introduced me to Nancy Drew mysteries and Betsy, Tacy, and Tib. CELEBRATE WITH US My grandparents’ encouragement of my reading eventually led to my love of writing—a hobby all of my grandparents have showered with support. In first grade, I won a short story contest at my elementary school, and Gramps took me out for ice cream to celebrate. My maternal Aging with Confidence

grandparents bought two dozen copies of my first book, a 40-page paperback I self-published in fifth grade, and they held a “book signing” for me in their kitchen, asking me to sign each one like a famous author. Even now, whenever I publish an article in a magazine, they buy half-a-dozen copies and ask me to “autograph” every one. As teenagers, we might roll our eyes or flash an embarrassed smile, but secretly we love it when you make a big deal out of our accomplishments: the soccer goals we score, the tests we ace, the prizes we win. And yes, we even love your license plate frames that say, “World’s Luckiest Grandma (or Grandpa).” YOUR ENCOURAGEMENT MEANS SO MUCH Sometimes our parents get too wrapped up in our successes, so our

failures seem even more acute because we feel like we are disappointing them. Likewise, sometimes our parents get swamped in daily stresses and forget to congratulate us on our minor victories—they’re too busy reminding us to do our chores, driving us to school and practice and games, making sure we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing. As our grandparents, you usually don’t have to worry as much about those things. Instead, you can focus on lifting us up and building our self-confidence. Never cease telling us how proud you are of us and how much you love us—it means more than you know. Dallas Woodburn is the author of the award-winning short story collection Woman, Running Late, in a Dress and the YA novel The Best Week That Never Happened. She is also a book writing coach and freelance journalist. Connect with her at DallasWoodburnAuthor.com

3rd Act magazine | fall 2019



to Breathe

How to help your grandkids learn resourcefulness by Cathy Kuntz I am not a grandparent—yet. But my daughters are talking about having children, so when I came across the quiz “Are You a Helicopter Grandparent?” at NextAvenue. org, I thought I’d give it a try. The quiz presents five scenarios, with three answers for each. Depending on your score, you are deemed to be either “too hands-off,” “middle ground,” or a “helicopter” grandparent. Most of our moms were at home with us full time. As long as we told them where we were going, who we were with, and when we’d be back, we were free to roam the woods, fields, and neighborhoods. If we ran into trouble, we could knock on a door where there was likely another mother available to help. By the time we had kids of our own, it was common practice for both parents to work full time outside the home, the first generation to do so. In the late 1970s and early ’80s, our kids came home from school to an empty house. We instructed them to lock the door, stay inside, and not answer the door until we came home—hence the term “latch-key kids.” Is it possible our fear-driven habits were the start of what is now called the “helicopter” parent phenomenon? Has over supervising and over scheduling hindered children’s ability to assess risk, be resourceful, and have a relationship with nature? What can we do as grandparents to encourage our grandkids to be more free range and develop a closer connection to nature?

Why We Hover Why do we feel we have to protect kids from every physical or mental discomfort? The website for Let Grow, an organization that “counters the culture of overprotection,” blames “the twin fears stalking today’s parents: Either their kids will be snatched by a demonic clown…or they won’t get into Harvard.”


3rd Act magazine | fall 2019

But let’s look at the statistics. According to the organization Free-Range Kids, rates of violent crime and the risk of child abduction by strangers are very low. There’s another reason we hover. We’re afraid we’ll be accused of neglect. According to the Free-Range Kids and Parents Bill of Rights, “Our children have the right to some unsupervised time, and we have the right to give it to them without getting arrested.” It sounds extreme, but a few parents have been threatened that their children will be placed in foster care if they allow them to walk home from a park, take a subway, or play outside of their homes on their own. Writing on the Psychology Today website, Let Grow co-founder Pete Gray says, “Children are designed, by nature, to spend hours per day playing with other children, independently of adults. In such play they practice all sorts of physical and mental skills; discover and pursue their passions; and learn how to create their own activities, solve their own problems, get along with peers, and control their emotions and impulses.” According to Gray, a lack of independent time can actually be harmful for our grandchildren. He links an increase in mental disorders to a decrease in independent play. Children’s creativity suffers as their freedom decreases. Down the road, overprotection can create depressed, anxious, and dependent college students who don’t know how to deal with everyday struggles, disappointments, and failures.

Resourcefulness Matters “Resourcefulness, the ability to meet challenges in a variety of ways, is a by-product of creative intelligence,” according to child development expert Karen Stephens. “As children develop resourcefulness, they learn to trust their instincts and unique abilities.” As grandparents, we can help our grandchildren develop the resources they need to become competent, confident, responsible, and happy young adults. Encouraging free play that allows children to develop life skills such as the ability to assess risk, take chances, and solve problems on their own is necessary for them to develop into happy and healthy people. Play is their work. It’s not easy to go from over scheduling and over supervising to allowing children unstructured time to walk to school, to a friend’s house, or home from the park on their own. But here are some tips on how to help parents loosen the reins:


• Provide guidance—discuss and determine ageappropriate free time and geographical range with parents.

• Create a special place outside where grandkids can keep a nature journal, draw, paint, read, or collect things.

• “Emphasize “as safe as necessary” over “as safe as possible,” suggests Mariana Brussoni, a University of British Columbia professor who has spent years researching the benefits of risky play.

• Go earthing: barefoot walking on the beach or grass. Lay down on a forest floor and look up into the canopy.

• Explore the neighborhood with your grandchildren. Talk about streetlights, crosswalks, and pose “what if” scenarios. What would they do if they ran into trouble? Who would they go to? Point out potential dangers so they can gradually reach a point where they have enough knowledge to stay safe.

Grandparenting isn’t our opportunity for a do-over. We had our chance; now it’s our kids’ turn. But we can still play an important role in helping to raise the next generation, keeping in mind that communicating with mom and dad and respecting their parenting styles is crucial to maintaining a good relationship. Together, we can encourage resourcefulness, give our grandchildren more responsibility, and help them connect with nature so they grow to be confident children who are ready for solo adventures. In other words: let go, get out of the way, and let them play!

• Involve children in decision making. • Foster exploration. • Communicate, adjust, negotiate. It takes energy and time. And remember—it’s OK to say “no” or “not yet.”

Help them get outside Children especially need free playtime in nature. Studies show that stress reduction, good physical and mental health, and family bonding all result from establishing a connection with the great outdoors. Richard Louv is author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. On the Children & Nature Network website, he and other experts list ways to help grandkids develop a relationship with nature: • Take a hike. Observe trees, plants, tide pools, animals, and weather. Gaze at clouds. Catch frogs. Watch fireflies.

• Keep collapsible chairs in the car trunk for nature breaks.

As a freelance writer, Cathy Kuntz finds inspiration in the wilderness, waters, and people of the West Coast. She is passionate about streamkeeping, fly-fishing, and writing personal memoirs. Cathy helps people celebrate their lives and legacies by creating unique photo memoir books. Learn more at CottageWordsmith.com.

• Go camping. Even a backyard campout provides a chance to look at the stars and marvel at the moon. • Watch birds. Invest in binoculars and opt for a good field guide rather than a bird app. • Grow a garden. Watch a seed sprout into a plant that flowers, goes to seed, and starts all over again. Go berry picking.

Aging with Confidence

3rd Act magazine | fall 2019


Living in

Harmony Retreat center founder reflects on a life of service and healing BY JULIE FANSELOW


3rd Act magazine | fall 2019



ome of us are lucky enough to know early on what we want to do with our lives— and patient enough to know that it’s never too late to get started. Growing up on a farm near Mount Rainier, Gretchen Schodde idolized her grandfather, whom she describes as “more Santa than Santa himself.” After he’d died of pancreatic cancer, Schodde had a chance in 1970 to visit her grandfather’s original homestead in Switzerland. As if it were yesterday, she describes the all-night train ride afterward: how she was filled with gratitude, rocked by the train, in touch with her breathing. The next morning, Schodde realized she’d felt a calling. She would create a wellness center in a beautiful place offering the sort of serenity she’d experienced on her ancestral pilgrimage. Schodde was a young nurse at the time, still getting her career underway. She went to graduate school at the University of Washington and became part of its faculty, specializing in rural health clinics. The wellness center idea went on the back burner until Schodde, by then teaching at Tacoma Community College, wound up at a retreat at St. Andrew’s House near Union, WA, one bright winter day in 1985, with fresh snow on the Olympic mountains and sunlight dancing on Hood Canal. She knew she’d finally found the right time and place to follow her dream. Within a year, Schodde was the caretaker of a property next to St. Andrew’s. The neighboring property soon became Harmony Hill, now a well-known retreat center that has welcomed thousands. But in the early years, Schodde made things up as she went along, whether she was seeking professional counsel or asking for donations from patrons including Bill Gates Sr. and Elmer and Kitty Nordstrom. “I didn’t know anything about running a retreat center,” she says. “I knew a lot about nursing.” She sought advice from the International Association of Conference Center Administrators and was asked how many beds she had. “I said 10 and they laughed, and I laughed, too.” She heard she needed at least 50 beds to make a go of it. Several decades and expansions later, Harmony Hill still doesn’t have that many. But from its start, Harmony Hill offered robust Aging with Confidence

programming and healthy meals served amid gorgeous views, along with gardens and trails and labyrinths to wander. When people go on retreat, Schodde says, “they’re hungry, and they’re often hungry for more than just getting away.” Harmony Hill soon found its niche as a retreat center for people affected by cancer—not just patients, but the people who care for them, both loved ones and professional caregivers—and by 2004, those retreats were free to attend. “So many people used to come and I knew they didn’t have the resources and when I’d hear their stories, I’d say, ’You come and we’ll find a way to make it happen,’” Schodde recalls. “Just show up.” As a survivor of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, she knew that the last thing cancer patients and caregivers want to do is “fill out more form when they’re already overwhelmed,” never mind come up with the money to pay yet another bill. (CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE)

Above: Views of the Olympics and Hood Canal compete with the glory of Harmony Hills’ beautiful gardens. Left: Gretchen Schodde, founder, created Harmony Hill as a retreat center for people affected by cancer.

3rd Act magazine | fall 2019


My husband and I were two such people, sitting in a small room at Swedish Cancer Institute in the spring of 2018. Tom had been living with multiple myeloma since 2010. His disease had been in remission nearly half a decade when the cancer came back, leading to a stem cell transplant in November 2016. Now Tom was in treatment again, and we were waiting to visit with the oncologist when we saw a flier on the wall for Harmony Hill’s first-ever stem cell transplant survivors’ retreat. We wondered: Should we go? In one sense, Tom was certainly a survivor, far outpacing the odds on a disease with a median survival rate of about three years, and the stem cell transplant had given him another 15 months of remission. We’d hoped for more, but we decided to sign up. Our retreat was a quiet but powerful weekend of restful sleep, tasty food, gentle yoga, and heartfelt conversation. Two days at Harmony Hill helped Tom and me focus on making the most of whatever time he still had, which wound up being nine weeks. Since none of us knows how much time we have left, isn’t that reflective time worth taking, no matter what? Schodde is feeling contemplative herself these days. It’s an exciting time for Harmony Hill, which recently hired a new executive director and is mulling ways to expand its reach throughout the Puget Sound region, all while Schodde explores what her own future holds. She has plenty she wants to do: mosaics, gardening, and leading another retreat to the Isle of Iona in Scotland, where she has been 11 times. She’d love to spend winters in the small Arizona house she inherited from her mother. Like many people nearing a transition, she’s sorting through her stuff and thinking about where she might live. The decision gained new urgency last spring when she had a severe case of vertigo. A colleague called 911 and the local paramedics came to help the woman who’d long served beside them on the volunteer fire department. The incident got Schodde’s attention. “I’m waking up to ’I’m 75, I have a lot of things on my bucket list,’” she says. “I think I have more things that I want to give and that I want to experience, but I don’t know if it’s going to be here. You start realizing that there’s a time when you become more fragile.” Schodde never married and she never had children. “I couldn’t have done this if I’d had children,” she says, referring to Harmony Hill. I suggest that Harmony Hill has in many ways been her child. “I do feel like that,” she agrees. “I want someone else to be the parent. I’d like to move into the grandparenting role. I have loved it and I’ve been so blessed and honored to be doing this work.” Harmony Hill’s new executive director, Cheryl Sesnon, comes to the job with experience leading several other


3rd Act magazine | fall 2019

regional nonprofits including FareStart and Jubilee Women’s Center. She’s also a cancer survivor and knows that after cancer, you can either feel diminished and depleted, “or you can feel like you’re committed to life at the next level.” Sesnon says she wasn’t actively looking for a new job, but she saw the posting “and I thought, ’that’s the job I want. That is my future.’ There was no question in my mind.” She’d spent time at Harmony Hill and knew of its mission of helping people attain a sense of wholeness and connection. “Of course I want that for myself in my life,” she says, “but I also want to be someplace that helps other people get there regardless of what’s going on in their lives—and for many people, that’s cancer.” Part of Harmony Hill’s magic is experiencing time and transformation in its beautiful setting, and you don’t need to have cancer to do that, since the center hosts an array of paid retreats and is available for private events. “Anybody who uses the space here for things that they’re going to do anyway,” whether team-building meetings or weddings or workshops, helps underwrite the retreats for people addressing cancer, notes Sesnon. “Gretchen is one of the most extraordinary women I’ve ever met,” Sesnon adds. “Every time she does anything at Harmony Hill, she has in mind those people, those families, who are going through cancer and trying to navigate their way through in the best, healthiest way they can.” In Harmony Hill’s early days, Schodde moved around the campus, at one time living in a room in what’s now the dining hall, at another time living in a trailer. (“I loved that trailer,” she says. “I’d pretend it was a sailboat. It was the best view of everything.”) But mostly she has lived at the heart of Harmony Hill in a rambling house that could help accommodate more guests. She knows it may soon be time to move on; she’s not yet sure where, though she says it won’t be too far. Some friends recently gave FOR MORE Schodde a tiny house placed INFORMATION: next to the big one where she Visit harmonyhill.org has lived these past many years. for news of upcoming For now, it’s a guest suite. But events and to read Gretchen Schodde’s someday it’ll be a haven for ongoing blog. Schodde to return on retreat, because no matter where she lives, Harmony Hill will be her spiritual home. “The bottom line for me is how to find meaningful purpose,” she says. “How can I support this place and yet be good to myself? Stay tuned.” Julie Fanselow lives in Seattle, writing and editing for clients including 3rd Act and Rick Steves’ Europe. Read more from her at surelyjoy.blogspot.com.


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Aging with Confidence

3rd Act magazine | fall 2019


Left to Right: Ann’s mom, Arlene, in her twenties; with Ann in 1960; with Ann’s daughter, Claire, in 1989.


“I woke up one morning thinking about Mom and her Montana childhood and her life and her Alzheimer’s disease and how our lives really are like our own personal movies that we play, rewind, edit, watch without ceasing. But life is not quite the right word. Consciousness, maybe, or soul or self— our sense of who we are—that’s the movie. Which means our neurons are the actual film stock, the raw material on which the movie that is each one of us is recorded in our brain. So what happens when the film is damaged? Or the projector starts gobbling it up? What happens if that was the one and only print?” —from the film Quick Brown Fox: an Alzheimer’s Story, by Ann Hedreen and Rustin Thompson My mother was diagnosed with probable Alzheimer’s disease when she was 66. She had been aware that something was wrong with her brain for at least a decade. After the diagnosis, she lived another nine years. For the last four years of her life, she spoke mostly gibberish. By the end of her life, she could not walk or feed herself. Having to watch my mother lose her mind over the course of nearly 20 years was a chronic, torturous form of grief— one that millions of families know well, though we still have such a hard time talking about it. And so: Do I fear Alzheimer’s? Of course I do. Every day. Yet I have spent so much time imagining what it must have been like to be my mom that I can, cautiously, say this much: For now, I am fairly sure I am not her. I am 62 years old, which means I’m right in the midst of what for her


3rd Act magazine | fall 2019

were the early-stage years of an illness that must have been terrifying, as her brain “blanked out,” as she put it, more and more often. But either I lucked out and inherited my father’s cognitive genes (he’s 85 and his brain is working pretty well), or, if Alzheimer’s is in my future, it’s not coming for me as early as it did for Mom. I am fairly sure I am not her. Maybe that’s an odd way to phrase it. But all my life, people have told me how much I looked like my mom. And I think after a while, I began to believe that surely I must have inherited more from her than the shape of my face. Surely if she drew a card as unlucky as Alzheimer’s, then I would too. I was 40 when she got that “probable” diagnosis. For the next decade, I felt stalked by Alzheimer’s disease. Whenever I visited Mom, I felt like Alzheimer’s rode home with me www.3rdActMag.com

Ann and Arlene in 1998 and in 2005 (b&w © by Susie Fitzhugh)

afterward in the back seat of the car. Just hanging out. Sizing me up. Waiting for me. And though I didn’t want to imagine what Alzheimer’s must have been like for her, I did imagine it, constantly. I couldn’t help myself. Could she actually feel her brain breaking down? Especially in the early stage? In Her Beautiful Brain, my 2014 memoir about Mom, I wrote: The tennis ball’s coming her way and she knows she’s supposed to raise her racket and return it but she— doesn’t. The message doesn’t get from her clogged-up brain down to her arm fast enough. Key, she says a dozen times, grab the key on your way out the door. But then the door closes behind her, locked tight, and she realizes the key is still sitting on the table, right inside. Pine Street. Eighth and Pine. Picture the 8. Picture a pine tree. That’s where the car is. But after an hour of shopping, she can’t picture the car anywhere at all. She can’t even remember what kind of car she drives. At 62, I have maddening moments where I can’t think of a name or a word. But then I do: 10 seconds later, or 10 minutes, or the next day. And I tell myself that, surely, those moments are nothing like what my mom was experiencing. What scares me more is to think about what a crushing weight it must be—emotionally, spiritually—to know that you are losing your mind. In Her Beautiful Brain, I imagined Mom just beginning to feel that weight when she was finally home, by herself, after the neurologist delivered the news: Aging with Confidence

She’s alone again, walking into her quiet, modern house with its walls of east-facing windows, hanging her jacket and silk scarf in the hall closet and going into the kitchen for… tea? Or wine? She reaches for a glass and opens the fridge and uncorks the white wine and says to herself, Oh why not. She sits down at the kitchen table and takes that first cold sip and looks out at the lake where, far below, a cluster of tiny sailboats is careening around in a strong wind. She suddenly feels—expendable. “Expendable,” she says to herself. “That’s a word Dr. Forsythe would like to hear me use. ’See, Arlene? With a vocabulary like that, you’re way ahead in this battle!’” Was she plucky like that, when she was by herself? That’s how she was with us. If we had been there, she would have joked about how it was too bad she preferred white wine, since red was supposed to be good for your brain. She would have pointed out the boats, and reached for her camera to take a picture of them. It’s hard to imagine her thinking of suicide. She wasn’t the type. She prided herself on her Sisu, the secret toughness possessed only by the Finnish people. But, in that moment, did the thought cross her mind? The sailboats are bumping into each other; a beginner’s class. Mount Rainier is in the clouds one minute, dramatically visible the next. Maybe the sailors are distracted by the mountain. That cold wine tastes good. She pours herself another glass. After all, who’s there to see her, to watch her brain wasting away? (CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE)

3rd Act magazine | fall 2019


The smartest girl in Butte High School. She used to tell us that, proudly; now she says it to herself wistfully. Her comeuppance at last: Alzheimer’s. The phone rings. She considers not answering. But then she thinks, no, I better. I hate to think the kids are going to worry even more now. “Hello? Caroline! Hi sweetie. I’m fine. Oh, that. Well, it’s not the greatest news, is it, but at least now we all know why I’ve been so batty. A group? What sort of a group? Oh, I see, it’s more of a class. Well yes, let’s do that then. Yes, I’m putting it on my calendar now. OK, talk to you soon.” She hangs up the phone and reaches for a pen, but the sun is just breaking over the top of one of the clouds and she has to watch it, it’s too beautiful, it’s like a Tiepolo ceiling, and by the time she reaches for her date book she’s forgotten when the class is. It’s OK. Caroline will call and remind her. That’s it, really, she thinks. She’s got to show that Sisu. For her kids and grandkids. But in the meantime, why not just drink a little more wine and take in the mountain and the clouds and the lake for about five more minutes. Five more minutes. Those crazy little sailboats. She never really did understand the appeal of trying to make a boat go


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where you want it to by pulling this rope or that rope and hoping you’ll catch the right breeze at the right moment. Paddling a canoe, rowing a rowboat—that was more her style. Off you go, under your own steam, enjoying the view along the way instead of wrapping yourself up in a big tangle of ropes.

I’ve lived with the loss of my mom, and the fear of Alzheimer’s, for a long time now. I understand that I am stuck with this particular fear; yours may be cancer or heart disease. But I also understand fear’s value, which is to continually remind me that I have no idea what the next day or decade might hold. Therefore, now is the time for me to do all that I feel called most urgently to do. I am my mother’s daughter. Like her, I would prefer to keep traveling under my own steam and enjoying the view along the way. Like her, I would rather not get wrapped up in a big tangle of ropes. But she did, and I might too. And if I do, I hope I will face it with all the Sisu that she possessed and which, I pray, I have inherited. Ann Hedreen is a writer, filmmaker, and the author of Her Beautiful Brain, winner of a Next Generation Indie book award. Ann and her husband, Rustin Thompson, own White Noise Productions and have made more than 150 short films and five feature documentaries together, including Quick Brown Fox: an Alzheimer’s Story. Ann has just completed a second memoir called The Observant Doubter.


Aging with Confidence

3rd Act magazine | fall 2019




Innovative technology enhances lives at Seattle memory-care community


very week at Quail Park Memory Care of West Seattle, residents might march with penguins, sit by the Eiffel Tower, pay a visit to their hometown, or just chill with a game of golf, all while sitting comfortably in a swivel chair. These fantastic experiences are provided by HomeAgain VR, a Seattle-based virtual reality (VR) non-profit that uses technology to enhance the lives of people living with dementia. “Bringing virtual reality into memory care has been heartwarming and eye-opening for me,” says HomeAgain VR founder Katherine Mahon. “It’s about immersing folks in experiences that evoke peace, excitement, or good memories. We see VR transform people’s moods.” Mahon and a team of volunteers make weekly visits to Quail Park Memory Care of West Seattle, offering private sessions to residents, and she remembers one recent encounter. “There was a woman described by her caregiver as confused and agitated,” Mahon recalls. “She spoke very little, didn’t smile, and her head drooped to her chest. We were able to put a VR headset on her and suddenly she was in a new place where kittens were playing all around her. She lifted her head to look around and said, ’Cats! Kittens! Lots of them!’ By the end of the session, she sat up straight with a big grin.” Research shows that VR can help treat chronic pain and anxiety. Because dementia symptoms may include stress, agitation, depression, and mood swings, VR seems an effective approach.


3rd Act magazine | fall 2019



Caregivers and senior-living professionals have observed that residents using VR have better posture, improved verbal responses, and improved mood. As part of Quail Park’s Life Engagement program, VR sessions adapt to the abilities of each resident: They might just relax and watch the world go by or use simple controllers to interact with VR content. In overseeing hundreds of sessions, Mahon has never observed anyone become disoriented or upset by the VR experience. “At some level, they seem to understand it’s not real. People are curious though,” she says, noting that safety is a priority. “People sit to avoid falls and a caregiver is always nearby. We always ask if they’re OK, to see how they’re doing.” Quail Park Memory Care of West Seattle offers another high-tech tool—a computer system called iN2L (“It’s Never 2 Late”). User-friendly, with large icons on a touchscreen, it allows people to choose

“Bringing virtual reality into memory care has been heartwarming and eye-opening... It’s about immersing folks in experiences that evoke peace, excitement, or good memories. We see VR transform people’s moods.” myriad experiences—games, art, exercise, spiritual explorations, and more. “It’s also a way to stay connected with family,” says iN2L founder Jack York, since residents can use Skype or put together a touch-screen puzzle with the grandkids. Quail Park quickly embraced the innovative technology. “They’ve done a great job. Both staff and management get it,” he adds.


FOR CAREGIVERS Are you caring for someone with dementia? Here are five important things to remember:

1 2

Accept support. Dementia care can be daunting. Never be afraid to ask for help.

Actively empathize. Imagine if you suddenly found yourself disoriented, unsure of even your own identity.


Be realistic. Most types of dementia are irreversible and progressive and will get worse over time. There will be good days and bad days. Success is assuring that the person you are caring for is as comfortable, happy, and safe as possible.


Dementia is more than memory loss. While memory loss is often the most apparent symptom, neurological decline can lead to a host of other issues. In the later stages of dementia, people can become unable to do things like dress or toilet independently. They may become noncommunicative and be unable to recognize loved ones.


Plan for the future. Prepare for a time when your loved one may need professional memory care in a residential setting. By exploring your options early, you’ll be able to identify the right setting for your loved one and make a move with the least amount of stress for you both.

Quail Park in West Seattle is purposefully built for enhanced, dignified memory care. Our community offers a secure home-like environment for your loved one. Call today to schedule a personalized tour and learn more about how we can help you provide a comfortable, happy, and safe life for a loved one living with dementia.

Aging with Confidence

206-445-6054 QPMCwestSeattle.com 4515 41st Avenue SW in West Seattle

3rd Act magazine | fall 2019


A Compassionate

Recipe for Change

As the holidays near, take stock of how you want to celebrate BY REBECCA CRICHTON For many years I facilitated grief support groups for a local hospital. People grieving the loss of loved ones came to share stories, offer support to each other, and understand their own ways for navigating loss. Every year, right after Halloween, people would focus on getting through the holiday season while still feeling fragile and uncentered by their losses. The upcoming season heightens the dilemma of balancing the needs of family and friends while also



Start talking with each other as early as possible about what people want for the upcoming holidays. Will meals be the same menu and at the same place? If so, does there need to be a reassessment of tasks and how they get done? If it’s time for a new venue or menu, what are some options? Consider going to one of the many restaurants that offer holiday meals. Or check grocery stores to see how a few purchased supplemental dishes can make things easier on the host or guests. Rebecca Crichton is executive director of Northwest Center for Creative Aging and presents programs on that topic in the Seattle area. She worked at Boeing for 21 years as a writer, curriculum designer, and leadership development coach.


3rd Act magazine | fall 2019

experiencing the internal processes of loss and change. When family members and friends with whom we have shared holiday celebrations deal with physical, emotional, and cognitive changes, we need to discern how we manage those celebrations to be both inclusive and realistic. Did everybody go to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving? Was Dad the one who always carved the turkey? Were you counting on your mother to fry dozens



We live with constant cultural insistence that the holiday season is all about festive celebration and joy. For many people, that is not the case. Sadness and loss can be worsened with the expectations to be happy. People can feel isolated when they don’t feel they can rise to the demands for participation and celebration. If you or someone close to you has concerns about the upcoming events, talk about them honestly and start to strategize about what you want to have happen that will address or eliminate the fear. Most of all, give yourself and others permission to express whatever it is they feel.

of potato pancakes for Chanukah, or get all the holiday decorations up before Christmas? What we have taken for granted can shift when someone experiences a major life change. It might be an operation, a difficult diagnosis, a move, or another event that requires rethinking what and how the various seasonal festivities will be spent.

Consider using my Recipe for Change: C – Communicate H – Honesty A – Accommodate N – Navigate G – Gratitude E – Enjoy



Getting older usually means we have to learn to accommodate—not always happily—to some of the changes age demands. We may eat and sleep differently, get tired, and feel less inclined to take on tasks that challenge us. Our hearing and vison might have changed. Learning to adapt to change is among the ongoing tasks we face. If we are able to identify what we can do and what we want to do as the holidays approach, we will make it easier to accommodate to what makes sense and allows others to adjust their expectations and plans.




Learn to navigate the ambiguity that surrounds many seasonal decisions. If we are used to being in control, counting on having things happen the way we want them to, we have probably discovered that isn’t always possible. Try to get comfortable “going with the flow,” an idea from the 1960s that still applies. Letting go of being in control of everything can offer release and relief. We can still make plans while understanding how plans can change. Uncompromising demands and rigid expectations only create suffering for everyone.

Aging with Confidence



Even as we face changes and loss, most of us can identify what we feel grateful for. It doesn’t help when someone tells us to count our blessings when we are in the midst of sadness and grief. But space and examples— especially if others tell us how much they appreciate what we offer—can help bring most people into balance. Another “G” worth exploring is Generosity. Even when we feel bereft and without resources or energy, if we can find some ways to contribute and give to others, we will feel better. It might not be everything we used to be able to do, but small gestures count. Remember the adage: Your presence is your gift!



Ultimately, we want to be able to enjoy whatever plans and gatherings happen during holiday season. Reflect on what gives you most joy. What activities and interactions make you feel happy? To the extent you can, choose to be with people you like and who like you. Do things that make you feel valued and included. This recipe, adjusted for the amounts of each ingredient that suits your own tastes and lifestyle, can serve you well for the holiday season and beyond.

3rd Act magazine | fall 2019





3rd Act magazine | fall 2019


hen I was about eight, a teacher told me that art was not my thing. I should find something else to do. Surely I had other talents. Unfortunately, I listened to her. Over the years, I produced a lot of crafty projects, but that teacher’s words echoed through the decades, warning me that “art” was off limits. I believed for too long that artists were born, not made. Then, five years ago, a friend told me about an online art class she was taking. Knowing my propensity to jump in with no idea what I’m doing combined with the fact that I do not like in-person lessons, I decided to give the class a try, even though it was, you know, ART. It sounds corny, but the day I sat down with a pencil and a few paints and began my journey to create a face that looked halfway human, there was no way I could see how doing so would change my life. I admit I have an addictive personality. Thankfully, I never got into smoking, drinking, or doing drugs. But when I fall in love with something, I am all in. I can’t sleep because my brain is filled with ideas. I want to do it all day, every day. When I was younger, the passions I sailed through included ukulele, sewing, gift wrapping, singing to Broadway albums, batik, humor writing, and other pursuits best forgotten. Luckily for me, when I fell in love with painting, I was retired. I loved everything about these online art classes. I adored that I could access them any hour of the day or night. No one was looking over my shoulder telling me what to do. (I don’t take well to this in art or any other area of life.) I could stop and start the videos as many times as I wanted. I joined a Facebook group for class members and was inspired by everyone’s work. Many like me, were first-timers. Others had been painting for years. It didn’t matter. Everyone was incredibly supportive and I was having the time of my life. This particular class went for a year with different teachers almost every week. It was not linear, thank goodness. I constantly learned new skills, but I could skip lessons that didn’t interest me. What a concept! I was doing a lot of painting. Almost every day I turned out something that, surprisingly, I didn’t hate. Much to my amazement, family and friends seemed to like them too (although to be honest, I did think they were just being nice). Giving away my paintings felt terrific, mainly because at this point in my life, I’m trying to get rid of things, not collect more. Toward the end of that year, I realized I had bestowed what I could on friends and family. But I continued to churn out paintings daily, spending between four to six hours on each. Aging with Confidence

As I stood staring at the ever-growing pile of paintings, I had a “ta-da” lightbulb moment. I don’t want a business and I am a fortunate person who doesn’t need any more money. I’m not after fame, nor do I want to hang my “play” (I refuse to call what I do “work”) in galleries. What I wanted—and want—to do is simply to paint. I also wanted this part of my life to have meaning, to contribute, to count. So I decided to try to give my paintings away on my Facebook page to the first person to say they wanted them, in exchange for their donation to any non-profit. I had no idea whether my paintings would speak to others, so I was somewhat shocked when, day after day, they did! Not only did people want them, but “buyers” were deeply grateful. Many wrote me moving notes about what the paintings meant to them and how they were making donations that connected to their lives. What started out as a way to keep from accumulating paintings turned into a massively fulfilling adventure. As of November 2018 (the first anniversary of this project), “buyers” had donated more than $42,000 to non-profits and individuals in need around the world. People get paintings they love and connect with. And I get to paint as much as I want. I can’t imagine a better way to spend the gift of the years I have been given.  See Lynn’s “play” at facebook.com/lynncolwell. She also maintains an art website at 1-lynn-colwell.pixels.com, where she sells digital art and photography, as well as prints of some original works posted on Facebook.

3rd Act magazine | fall 2019






ecently I was on a massive cruise ship with convenience and efficiency of sleeping while you travel 3,000 passengers blitzing the great ports of to your next destination. the Mediterranean — and having lots of fun. There are some negatives. There’s no denying that No, I’m not suddenly abandoning my independent travel the cruising industry contributes to water, air, and principles and becoming a huge proponent of cruising. But marine-noise pollution—but technology and consumer I am impressed by the economy, efficiency, and popularity pressure are helping a bit. Environmental responsibility is of this kind of travel…and, to be honest, I enjoy cruising. such a hot topic that all the large cruise lines have website I’m the first to admit that cruising doesn’t sections where you can evaluate their efforts. BY RICK appeal to everyone. For some, it’s anti-travel. For (Of course, this info is also intended to help market STEVES others, it’s the perfect vacation. their cruises.) On our ship, I met people who seemed to be having a And what about the impact on local economies and great time…most of them veterans of many cruises. I also communities? Cruising can trample towns with sightseers met lots of budget-conscious travelers who told me that who leave almost no money (since they eat, sleep, and buy a cruise (which includes transportation, lodging, and food their tours on board). On the other hand, most of those for one discounted price) is a wonderful value. communities view cruise ships as an economic boost— The per-day base cost for mainstream cruises beats which explains why so many ports are investing in cruiseindependent travel by a mile. For a weeklong European worthy piers and terminals. cruise, a couple can pay as little as $100 per person per Conscientious travelers also want to consider issues night—that’s less than most hotel rooms in London or of economic justice. Critics point out that the industry is Paris. To link all the places on your own—with hotels, built on rich tourists being served by crew members from rail passes, boat tickets, taxi transfers, restaurants, poor countries. But I’ve talked to many people who work and so on—would add up fast. And you can’t beat the on cruise ships, and they’ve told me that the income they


3rd Act magazine | fall 2019


Left: Ship in Kotor Bay near Perast, in Montenegro. Above: The influx of passengers from huge cruise ships overwhelms Venice, Italy.

earn on a ship is far more than any employment prospects they have back home. And the remarkable loyalty of numerous crew members (working many, many years for the same cruise line) says a lot about this working arrangement. There’s also diversity to this style of travel. Cruising can accommodate a family with vastly different travel philosophies. It’s possible for Mom to go to the museum, Dad to lie by the pool, Sally to go snorkeling, Bobby to go shopping, Grandma and Grandpa to take in a show… and then all of them can have dinner together and swap stories about their perfect days. (Or, if they’re really getting on each other’s nerves, there’s plenty of room on a big ship to spread out.) Cruising is especially popular among retirees, particularly those with limited mobility. Cruising rescues you from packing up your bags and huffing to the train station every other day. Once on land, accessibility for wheelchairs and walkers can vary dramatically—though most cruise lines offer excursions specifically designed for those who don’t get around well. And yet, I still have reservations. Just as people trying to learn a language will do better by immersing themselves in that culture than by sitting in a classroom for a few hours, I believe that travelers in search of engaging, broadening experiences should eat, sleep,

Aging with Confidence

and live Europe. Good or bad, cruising insulates you from Europe. If the taxi drivers in Naples are getting a little too pushy, you can simply retreat to the comfort of 24-hour room service, American sports on the TV, and a boatload of people who speak English. It’s fun—but is it Europe? Cruising might not be for everyone. But neither is my style of travel. And at least cruising gets people (who might otherwise stay home) out interacting with the world. Many of the people I met on my last cruise were enjoying (and benefiting from) the chance to broaden their perspective through travel…even if tethered to a big floating chunk of America. Let’s face it: Americans have the shortest vacations in the rich world. Some choose to dedicate their valuable time off to all-inclusive, resort-style vacations in Florida, Hawaii, the Caribbean, or Mexico: swimming pools, song-and-dance shows, shopping, and all-you-can-eat buffets. Cruising lets you toggle back and forth between the floating American-style resort each evening and a different European adventure each day. If you know how to use your time on shore smartly, it can be the best of both worlds. Bon voyage!  Rick Steves (www.ricksteves.com) writes European travel guidebooks and hosts travel shows on public television and public radio. Email him at rick@ ricksteves.com and follow his blog on Facebook.

3rd Act magazine | fall 2019


ON THE TOWN The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee will unfold at Village Theatre this fall. Photo by Mark Kitaoka

Let’s Make It A

DATE If you enjoy live theater consider this: there is great pleasure in sharing this long-running, admirable art form with a young person. Be it your son or daughter, a grandchild, a niece or nephew, or simply a friend, exposing younger people to the magic of performances that take place right here, right now can foster a meaningful rapport—or in any case provide a memorable evening out. And theater is a reminder in our digitally-obsessed era that not all entertainment comes from clicks on a cellphone or a computer keyboard. Finding family-friendly productions with crossgenerational appeal can take a bit of doing. But with a little research and some tips from stage-loving friends, you can find appropriate shows at a variety of Seattle area theaters. Just be clear: Is the production’s subject matter of interest to you and your young companion? Is there nudity, heavy profanity, or other aspects of a show that you might consider too mature, or too difficult to understand, for your younger companion? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, a quick call to a theater’s box office should give you more information about what they’re offering. But keep in mind that today’s young


3rd Act magazine | fall 2019

Live theater is a fine way to share time with young friends BY MISHA BERSON

people, especially adolescents, tend to be more sophisticated and open-minded in their tastes and comprehension than in previous generations. And even if a play raises difficult questions, it could fuel a worthwhile post-show discussion. Here are some shows coming up in the Seattle area that you and a child or teenager could both find rewarding:

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee The pressure is on at spelling contests, and it affects all the quirky middleschoolers in this hit Broadway musical presented with professional panache by the Village Theatre at their Issaquah and Everett auditoriums. Written by Rachel Sheinkin with music by William Finn, the show draws laughs from the competition, the rivalry, and the camaraderie of a www.3rdActMag.com

fictional “bee” via winning comical tunes like “My Friend, the Dictionary” and “Why We Like Spelling.” There is some mild profanity, and tingle or two of adolescent sexual attraction. But the show has exerted strong appeal for teens, who often relate to and are amused by the likable characters and their shenanigans. Oh, a nd t here’s some aud ience participation too. Village Theatre in Issaquah through Oct. 20, and at the Everett Performing Arts Center Oct. 25Nov. 17, VillageTheatre.org.

winner Jerry Zaks. Though a bit of mild swearing and a few non-explicit sexual innuendoes are included, the production sounds suitable for young people, preteen and older. It could also be fun to watch the movie first with your companion, then see the live show and afterward compare the two together. And if Mrs. Doubtfire turns out to be a Broadway hit, you’ll both have bragging rights for having seen it early on. 5th Avenue Theatre, Nov. 26-Dec. 29, 5thAvenue.org

Corduroy Seattle Children’s Theatre, a nationally admired professional playhouse for youth, has often adapted popular storybooks for the stage. On this occasion, little ones (ages 3 and up) can take in Barry Kornhauser’s play based on Corduroy, a beloved tale by Don Freeman, ranked by the School Library Journal as one of the best 100 picture books of all time. The book and play convey the story of a teddy bear who goes on a journey through a department store to replace a button missing from his overalls, so that a little girl named Lisa will buy him. Corduroy gets into a few messes—the kind that will delight youngsters, but not appall adults—before a happy ending is secured with needle and thread. Seattle Children’s Theatre, Nov. 21-Dec. 29, sct. org.

The Bishop’s Wife Located in Seat t le’s Greenwood neighborhood, Taproot Theatre prides itself on offering shows that grandparents and grandkids can enjoy together. During the 2019 holiday season, the company will present a new adaptation of a vintage 1947 film (which starred Cary Grant and Loretta Young, later remade into another

Mrs. Doubtfire Many adults (and some kids) will remember the 1993 movie in which Robin Williams portrayed a divorced man so eager to spend more time with his children that he impersonates a jolly nanny who gets hired by their mother to care for them. Seattle’s historic 5th Avenue Theatre will showcase the new Broadway-aimed musical comedy based on the hit film and directed by multiple Tony AwardAging with Confidence

movie, The Preacher’s Wife, with Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston) in a special format. It will be mounted as an old-fashioned radio play, complete with sound effects created before your eyes. And the audience will be in on the act as the “live” radio audience. Taproot has used t he ga mbit successfully before, in a radio play version of It’s a Wonderful Life. In this case the play is about a bishop having trouble finding the money to build a new cathedral, and the angel who not only helps him raise the funds but also get along better with his wife and children. Taproot Theatre, Nov. 27-Dec. 28, TaprootTheatre.org. Misha Berson writes about the arts for The Seattle Times and many other publications, and is the author of four books, including Something’s Coming, Something Good: West Side Story and the American Imagination (Applause/Hal Leonard).

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NOV 7 – DEC 29, 2019

JAN 3 – FEB 2, 2020

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Everett (425) 257-8600 3rd Act magazine | fall 2019


Lost and Found After BY SALLY FOX


3rd Act magazine | fall 2019



I want my inches back! At my yearly physical, I started arguing with the medical assistant measuring me, “I’ve always been taller than that.” She chose to believe the data staring at us: an inch and a half of me had gone missing. Without permission. Losing height is only one of the many losses we may encounter in midlife and beyond. In a brief, unscientific survey of friends over 50, I learned how cumulative small losses have changed their lives. Not all of the losses are heart-wrenching or tragic, such as a catastrophic accident or the death of a beloved. Some slip in slowly, like a knee that aches for a while before announcing one day that it is no longer going up mountains. Many of the losses are body-related. I’m not the only one who wants the lost inches back or the extra pounds gone. Friends have lost teeth, energy, waistlines, and seen their vision or hearing diminish. One lost the ability to eat anything without gaining weight. I lost my beautiful, straight teeth. Every evening I stare at the mirror and wonder what caused my orthodontically engineered teeth to mutiny. We lose stuff, such as jackets, gloves, and glasses. I’ve become a connoisseur of cheap drugstore readers while

I search for the prescription glasses that have gone into hiding. Some losses set the stage for how we live. Our height shrinks, and we need help lifting plates to the top shelf. One friend lost her ability to live independently when her physical strength and mobility declined. Many losses are intangible. One friend reports a loss of innocence, while another “lost confidence that I could do whatever I wanted to.” One lost her youthful feeling of invincibility and immortality, while another lost the freedom to choose how she spends her days now that she must care for her husband. Many have lost friends and family. Parents. A mother to Alzheimer’s. Best friends and confidantes. Friends move out of state, or a granddaughter leaves for college. Despite all the losses, my friends are quick to point out the gains they’d found. Some losses are positive: “my perfectionism,” “my need to be right,” and “my need to fill every hour of my day.” Others have found new ease, peacefulness, and confidence. We have “I’m more comfortable in my the power skin.” “I can meet with my clients with to balance minimal preparation and trust what we that I’ll know what they need.” lose with “I’m more OK to be me.” On balance, most feel that the strength their gains overshadow the of our losses, but it’s simplistic to insight and say that loss leads to gain, imaginations or that tragedy always has a silver lining. Loss can hurt. I remember the day a guest broke a piece of my wedding china. I tried telling myself, “It’s just a thing,” but I’ll never forget the sound of that plate breaking. (CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE)

Aging with Confidence

3rd Act magazine | fall 2019


On balance, most feel that their gains overshadow the losses. We don’t have to like a loss to appreciate what we find, yet staying positive will help us notice the good we might not otherwise see. Loss is inevitable. How we deal with it is not. Here are a few ways to work positively with loss. Allow the feelings to be. Give yourself the gift of acknowledging and feeling your losses, without trivializing them away. Feeling a loss doesn’t mean that you have to wallow in it. Wallowing keeps us from noticing that life is multifaceted and always changing. Even in moments of deep sorrow, the smell of honeysuckle can make us smile, or we may delight in the antics of a grandchild. A good-bye may be sad—and also joyous as we remember how much we loved a friend. The knees that won’t take us up mountains can still carry us happily around a nearby garden. Ditch the suffering where you can. We may not choose the pain we feel, but we can choose the meaning we attach to it. Suffering occurs when we believe that life should be different than it is. That said, don’t judge yourself for a little suffering. (Who among us has reached enlightenment?) You can always use your experience to expand compassion for others. Reframe the situation. Without denying feelings, you can explore a situation from multiple perspectives, choosing what helps you move on. I’ve lost my ability to race up mountains, but my much slower steps allow me to see more beauty when I hike. Even knowing what we’ve lost, we can rejoice in what we have. When our vision declines, we may no longer see the details in a rose, but we can treasure its fragrance all the more. If our body weakens, we can tap our insight and imagination to experience facets of the world we otherwise might have missed. Let go of the silver lining fallacy. Loss comes with life, and not every loss will lead to gain. A quest for the proverbial silver lining may keep us from facing our pain and acknowledging how loss can change our lives. Life doesn’t come with a formula that balances the pain of what we lose


(Puzzles on page 64)


3rd Act magazine | fall 2019

Catch Some ZZ’s 1. Dizzy 7. Sizzle 2. Puzzle 8. Guzzle 3. Blizzard 9. Mezzanine 4. Jazz 10. Paparazzi 5. Buzzard 11. Mozzarella 6. Embezzle 12. Muzzle

with the joy of what we find. Chances are good something positive will come out of your experience, and you’ll be more likely to discover it when you approach life with curiosity rather than believing that life owes you happiness. Track joy. While joy may occasionally slip into our lives without effort on our part—I call that grace—other times, we need to practice keeping our hearts open, and using our attention, curiosity, and wonder to invite more joy into our lives. Laugh and make music together. An artist friend taught me this one. She’s lost part of her vision, had to give up her preferred medium, and must help her husband with dementia. Rather than go down in self-pity, she gathers friends for a weekly evening of laughter, wine, music, and connection. She buoys her resilience with her friendships— and gains many offers of the rides she needs. Find your cathedral. My good friend Kate was forced to leave her two-bedroom apartment when rent hikes in the booming Seattle housing market exceeded what she could pay. Fortunately, she located a studio in subsidized senior housing, and it came with a stunning view. Moving required her to let go of much of her stuff, yet when I visited her, her studio felt artful and cozy. After a leisurely conversation, she insisted that we visit her secret spot. She walked me down a bland, institutional hallway, opened the fire exit door, and invited me to step into a dank, cavernous stairwell lined in gray concrete. I stood with curiosity as she said, “Listen.” Then she began to sing. I felt the magic, as her gorgeous mezzo voice lifted into space. With the notes reverberating off the walls, we were no longer standing in a stairwell. For a moment, we were in a cathedral. Loss after 50 is part of life. Yes, I still would like that inch and a half to return. Yet Kate’s discovery inspired me. If we lose our health or have to leave familiar housing, it may hurt. Regret is normal. But we have the power to balance what we lose with the strength of our insight and imaginations—and then we may find a cathedral where others just see concrete. Sally Fox, owner of Engaging Presence, is a coach and writer who helps individuals develop and craft compelling stories. She writes about following your creative calling after midlife. Find her blog at engagingpresence.com and listen to her podcasts at 3rd ActMagazine.com.

Back to Back 1. Backbone 2. Humpback 3. Greenback 4. Backlog 5. Hatchback

6. Backstabber 7. Zwieback 8. Outback 9. Flashback 10. Kickback

Rhyme Time 1 Disagree; and Tennessee 2. Hello; and Thoreau 3. Squid; and kid 4. Forbid; and Madrid 5. À la carte; and Purple Heart

6. Soufflé; and sorbet 7. Tweed; and knead 8. Pledge; and wedge 9. Vivid; and livid 10. C antaloupe; and antelope



Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love BY DANI SHAPRIO Dani Shapiro grew up in an orthodox Jewish family, proud of her lineage and devoted to her faith, even as people occasionally questioned how a perky, blond child could have been born to two Eastern European Ashkenazi Jews. Then, in her early 50s, Shapiro signed up on a whim to get one of those inexpensive DNA tests. The results cracked her sense of reality: She learned that her deceased and dearly loved father was not her biological father. After sleuthing online—it didn’t take long—she identified her biological dad, a doctor of Scandinavian lineage, who lived on the other side of the country. Watching a video of him teaching, she was stunned to see that even their gestures were similar. The foundation of her world seismically shifted. Imagine what it was like for the biological dad to receive an email out of the blue, suggesting that he had a daughter from sperm he sold more than 50 years ago.

It’s OK That You’re Not OK BY MEGAN DEVINE If you’ve known devastating loss, reading It’s OK That You’re Not OK by Megan Devine can be like sitting with a compassionate friend who knows that you’re not crazy and doesn’t try to fix you. “The way we deal with grief in our culture is broken,” Devine says at the start of her book, then she illustrates how often we hurt the grieving friends whom we most want to comfort. We expect friends to manage their losses, implying that they should “just get on with life” after a suitable period of time. We think we offer help with our hopeful platitudes but leave our deeply grieving friends feeling alienated and dismissed, worried that it’s not OK to feel the pain they are still feeling. After describing how many forms of support can hurt

Aging with Confidence

I’ll save the rest of the book for you, but Shapiro, a gifted writer, keeps you spellbound with the questions she raises about what is family and the impact of family secrets. With compassion, she offers some context: Her parents desperately wanted to give birth to a child, yet felt they needed to keep their plans secret. As late as 1954, a court had ruled that donor insemination represented adultery by the woman. Shapiro’s story might seem bizarre and exceptional, but the spread of low-cost genetic testing has made similar stories more common: A friend recently told me that he has been contacted by two children born of sperm he had sold years ago.

someone dealing with grief, Devine shares what can help, drawing from her work as a therapist and personal experience with tragedy. Never again will you attempt to cheer people out of their feelings or wax on about a probable silver lining. Instead, you’ll understand the power of being present to a friend’s pain even when it feels unbearable, listening for what your friend needs, and keeping your heart open with compassion.

3rd Act magazine | fall 2019


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

Catch Some ZZ’s (easier)

All of the answers in this quiz contain double ZZ’s. 1. Woozy______________________________________

7. The sound of bacon cooking in the pan___________

2. Jigsaw______________________________________

8. To wolf down a beverage_______________________

3. Winter whiteout______________________________

9. The lowest balcony of a theater_________________

4. Music of Davis or Coltrane______________________

10. Shutterbugs that pursue celebrities_____________

5. Common word for a scavenger bird______________

11. Italian cheese used on pizza____________________

6. To steal money from your workplace_____________

12. Headgear for a dangerous dog__________________

Back to Back (harder)

All of the answers in this word definition game either begin or end with the word BACK. 1. The spine.___________________________________

6. A person who sabotages a friend._______________

2. Large baleen whale known for its beautiful songs. ___________________________________________

7. For many teething babies, this baked product was their first taste of real food.____________________

3. Slang term for U.S. paper money._______________

8. Remote and usually uninhabited regions of Australia._________________________________

4. The accumulation of uncompleted work that needs to be dealt with.______________________________ 5. A sedan with a large upward-swinging door in the rear.__________________________________

9. A sudden, vivid memory from the past.__________ 10. Improper of illegal payment for a favor; it’s also called graft or payola._______________________________

Rhyme Time (hardest)

Each question in this game includes two definitions for two different words. The twist is, they will rhyme.

1. To express an opposing opinion; and the home state of Al Gore and Davy Crockett.__________________________ 2. A greeting; and the author of Civil Disobedience and Walden.______________________________________________ 3. A marine mollusk; and a baby goat.____________________________________________________________________ 4. To refuse to allow, to prohibit; and the capital city of Spain.________________________________________________ 5. A menu of individual dishes; and military decoration for those wounded in action.___________________________ 6. A puffy baked custard; and sherbet without dairy._______________________________________________________ 7. Scottish wool flecked with colors; and to mix bread dough.________________________________________________ 8 A promise or vow; and a piece of pie or cheese.__________________________________________________________ 9. Bright, brilliant, intense; and furiously angry.____________________________________________________________ 10. Orange melon; and gazelle or impala.__________________________________________________________________ Reprinted with permission from Nancy Linde, author of the best-selling books 399 Puzzles, Games, and Trivia Challenges Specially Designed to Keep Your Brain Young and 417 More Games, Puzzles, and Trivia Challenges Specially Designed 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.


3rd Act magazine | fall 2019



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