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MESSAGE from the publisher
The Gift of Preparation HIS HANDS had stopped shaking. It was Sunday, July 30, and my stepfather had been on home hospice care for just three days. He’d been shaking like a leaf when I arrived at my mother’s house a couple of days earlier— the essential tremor that had plagued him for decades vibrating his frail body. But now his hands were still and his fingers relaxed as I gently massaged them with lotion. He took ragged breaths which would pause, then resume, with a gasp. I swabbed out his open, dry mouth, moistening his lips, trying to provide some small comfort. It had been a horrendous couple of days. Publishing a magazine about aging with plenty of articles on death and dying had not prepared me for the reality of being there, or for the tremendous stress and physical effort of hands-on caretaking at the end. As much as we try to sanitize it, dying is a messy business— and most of us, the living and the dying, are unprepared.
No one wants to be preoccupied with our mortality, but preparation is not preoccupation. My stepfather had pre-arranged for cremation, and it was a relief when The Neptune Society arrived within hours to pick up his body. Making these decisions ahead of time, before we are beyond the capacity to make them, is an enormous gift to our family. And there is more to do: We need to make sure that all our paperwork is in order—advance directives, durable powers of attorney, wills, and even a letter to our families expressing our wishes. I’ve decided that I am going to create a “red line” letter, outlining stages of infirmity that would trigger heightened levels of care and when I want my family to bring in help, or move me to a skilled nursing facility, or to inpatient hospice. I do not wish to burden my loved ones with acute care at my end. I would rather have them free to support me emotionally and with their love, and to care for themselves, as a last gift I can give them. In this issue, we explore ways you can give gifts that will ease someone’s burden, support your values, build a legacy. Let the stories inspire you to pay it forward—today, tomorrow, and during the upcoming holiday season, too. You don’t need to be wealthy. It’s remarkable how much we can impact other people’s lives with even the smallest of gifts. Isn’t that nice to know?
“It’s remarkable how much we can impact other people’s lives with even the smallest of gifts.”
3rd Act magazine | fall 2017
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, Gayle Fox SOCIAL MEDIA Kellie Moeller ADVERTISING Victoria Starr Marshall, Carolyn Hultz DISTRIBUTION & CIRCULATION David Marshall COVE R PH OTO Jeff Caven 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 2017 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.
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25 W HAT WILL I GIVE BACK?
Discover what your soul still longs to do. JOHN C. ROBINSON
30 ROOTS AND WINGS
Rev. Bob Nicholson honors his past while living a full present. ANN HEDREEN
43 THE END OF LIFE
Planning for the inevitable adds joy to the journey. PRISCILLA CHARLIE HINCKLEY
51 B UILDING A FAMILY LEGACY Three local family businesses build value—and values. JULIE FANSELOW
54 W HEN GIVING BECOMES A GIFT Consider your motives before holiday shopping. SALLY FOX
ARTFUL AGING 10 AGING WITH INTENTION
Shed the “shoulds” and “oughts,” and live your life. LINDA HENRY
12 G IVING VOICE TO VALUES How will you be remembered? REBECCA CRICHTON
14 H ONOR YOUR LIFE
Getting better at “making things better.” JENNIFER JAMES
18 LIVING BY DESIGN
Plan ahead. Your children will thank you. DENISE KLEIN
22 W RITING YOUR LIFE STORY So you want to write a memoir. Here’s where to start. FRANCES S. DAYEE
27 LIVING INTO DYING
Define what quality of life means for you. ASHLEY T. BENEM
Aging with Confidence
| 3rd Act magazine
16 A LIVING LEGACY
28 LEAVING A SAFER SOCIETY
The best gift to leave your loved ones. DON McDONALD
20 UNEXPECTED GRATITUDE Gratitude boosts happiness and well-being. ANNIE CULVER
33 COMPASSIONATE LISTENING Seeding peace in difficult times. ANDREA COHEN
46 MY THIRD ACT
How $500 and a goat in Africa changed my life. JACK YORK
58 WINTER IN EUROPE
Don’t write off a delightful destination just because it’s winter. RICK STEVES
60 DIRTY OLD WOMEN
Erotica comes out of the closet. DORI GILLIAM
63 ARE YOU AGING OR FERMENTING? A brewer’s perspective. DAN SCHMIEDING Cover: Village Concepts CEO and president Steve Brown with his son, company COO Stuart Brown, and grandchildren at High Point Village, the company’s newest expansion project in Enumclaw, WA. Village Concepts was founded by Steve’s father, Bill Brown, in 1975. Photo by Jeff Caven.
3rd Act magazine | fall 2017
Grandmothers unite to save lives through gun safety. SUSAN BRANDZEL
36 B RAIN SCIENCE - THE POWER OF A SMIDGEN A few delicious morsels for a healthy, well-loved mind. ROGER ANUNSEN
38 B UILD YOUR BONES
Some smart ways to keep osteoporosis at arm’s length. KYLE CIMINSKI
39 B EAT CANCER? EXERCISE NOW! Team Survivor Northwest has a program for success. LISA STUEBING
48 TECH TOOLS FUEL MEMORIES New ways for those living with dementia to engage with life. RICHARD SEVEN
IN EVERY ISSUE 8 TIME TO TALK Help with pressing questions on aging and transitions. KELLIE MOELLER
56 O N THE TOWN
Take a Bow: “Angels” support the arts with time, money, and love. MISHA BERSON
Her Beautiful Brain by Ann Hedreen and The Shelf Life of Ashes by Hollis Giammatteo. REBECCA CRICHTON
64 B RAIN GAMES
Challenge yourself with these word puzzles.
Higher Adulthood I am so grateful for your efforts to bring a bright light to those of us who are transitioning into a higher adulthood, our seniorhood. We have been fed so much of a negative perspective on aging that it is refreshing to get more enlightened attitudes as we move into our golden years via articles etc. for a healthy way of being “old.” My spirit is still so young and I want my body to be able to stay in tune with it. This magazine just adds more information to my health regime. — Linda Jarvis, Chimacum, WA
Not Your Typical Sr. Publication We just received a copy of the magazine from close friends. We are pleasantly surprised at the content and quality! A magazine designed for seniors that doesn’t apologize for focusing on lifestyle and interests of “the older generation.” We also like the broad range and relevancy of articles that focus on people doing interesting things in their lives, whether lifestyle challenges or community involvement. Some things we do not like in other publications: older people sitting in dining rooms of classy retirement homes smiling over their glasses of wine; pictures of “typical” gatherings where everyone looks about 30 years old—except with stylish gray haircuts; people walking hand-in-hand into the sunset of their lives...blah blah blah. Some things that might make it even stronger: more racial diversity and more emphasis on different family make-up, e.g. grandparents with gay
children or grandchildren.
— Walter Bodle and Lynn Iglitzin, Seattle
talk to us!
by mail: 3rd Act Magazine, 81 Canal Lane, Brinnon, WA 98320 by email: info@3rdActMag.com Please include your name, city, state, and phone number when possible. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. www.3rdActMag.com
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time to talk BY KELLIE MOELLER
Leaving a legacy means more than bestowing money. What really matters to us and to our children are opportunities to teach, create memories, and share stories from one generation to another. Our days are filled with opportunities to make a difference in the lives of those we love and leave a legacy that lasts.
I am 73 years old and recently retired. I raised three children and was a businesswoman for over 40 years. My health has declined quickly over the past few years. I am almost immobile, no longer able to leave my home much, and feel depressed. I am struggling with my purpose at this point in life, and what legacy I will leave my family.
Kellie Moeller has worked in the senior housing industry in the Northwest for more than a decade. With an insider’s view and a passion for serving seniors, she gives a fresh perspective on aging. Email your questions to TimetoTalk@ 3rdActMagazine.com or mail your questions to Time to Talk, 3rd Act Magazine, 81 Canal Lane, Brinnon, WA 98320.
After retirement, our lifestyle simplifies to accommodate our needs, but our legacy doesn’t have to. There are many ways in which you can impact the world with the talents and experience that you bring. To leave a legacy means “to leave a story”…something that will carry on memories, wisdom, and ideas to the following generations. Sort through old photo albums and pick out ones that can tell a story about adventure, life lessons, successes, humor, or defeats that you’ve experienced in your life. Talk about them at family gatherings and swap tales. Make the stories permanent by sharing them on a website, blog, or social media. You can even publish your own book! Don’t lose the opportunity to share those precious life lessons. You don’t have to leave the house to leave a legacy.
I just became a grandmother! The arrival of this precious bundle has opened up a new world of joy for me and has me thinking: How can I effectively love and influence my grandchildren? How can I leave a memorable legacy in their lives?
Grandparenting is one of life’s biggest blessings. If your family is local, spend consistent time with the kids. A sleepover while Mom and Dad have a date night out, picnics in the park, or short trips out for treats become special traditions that grandchildren love. Be their cheerleader. Listen to their ramblings, ask them questions about their world,
3rd Act magazine | fall 2017
and feed them their favorite things. Sing with them songs from your youth, teach them new skills (especially those that you have mastered), and include them in meal preparation…anything to have the opportunity to talk, listen, and influence them. For long-distance grandparenting, there are a host of opportunities that may require an update on your technology skills: Skype frequently and have questions ready to get them talking. Tell stories, read short books to them, and show photos of their parents when they were little. Pick up a fun toy or interesting item in your everyday travels and share it online before sending it in the mail. I have a friend living in Spain who sends each of her grandchildren a long-distance letter every month. Her husband sings songs with them while they are on Skype. My mother-in-law made birthdays her special contribution with hand-decorated cards and money inside. Great legacies are built on the connection and consistency you have with each child. Here are five fresh legacy ideas: Make your own photo and storybooks. Shutterfly.com is one online source, with prices varying on the size and type of book. Create short videos of adventures together. Use tools you already have on your computer, or a service like animoto.com ($8 per month for personal use). Send online greeting cards. Kids love Jacquie Lawson cards because they are filled with nature, animals, and music. Price is $14 per year at jacquielawson.com. Personalize presents with the huge quantity of fun, designer-oriented gifts from zazzle.com Search the web for “the best kids activities near (add your location)” and you will find lists like the “Top 10 Free (or Super Cheap) Things to Do with Kids Under Five” at the Red Tricycle website. www.3rdActMag.com
AGING WITH INTENTION
‘Act your age’ What does that even mean? 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: StrengthsBased Strategies for Caring. She conducts workshops nationally on aging and creating caring work environments. Her volunteer emphasis is age-friendly communities. Image by Inge Löök©, printed by permission. See more at www.ingelook.com
AT A WORKSHOP I LED, a woman reported that her daughter hoped she would learn finally to act her age. The group’s answer? “Never!” Ever-increasing longevity means our society has an uncertain relationship with its growing group of elders. Messages extolling us to act our age are everywhere. Do any of these sound familiar? “You are too old to go back to school.” “You should stop doing so much and slow down.” “At your age, you should retire and spend more time with your grandchildren.” “You are too old to take a new job.” And, of course, “you’re too old to wear that color, style, or…” Whether overt or subtle, we hear plenty of examples of cultural ageism, first defined in 1969 by gerontologist and Pulitzer Prize-winner Dr. Robert Butler as “a deep-seated uneasiness on the part of the young and middle-aged—a personal revulsion to, and distaste for, growing old, disease, disability, and fear of powerlessness, ‘uselessness’ and death.” As cultural norms have shifted, it has been said that ageism is the only acceptable “ism” left. Interestingly, society’s youth-oriented culture appears to make allowances for certain groups. Consider that nearly half of U.S. senators up for re-election in 2018 are 65 or older. But for most of us, once we cross an arbitrary age line, we often are deemed to be “less than.” We know it because we are reminded of our downhill decline through the “shoulds” and “oughts” assigned to those of a certain age based on others’ expectations and their perceptions of what it means to be old. Of course, no one, not even those who offer such
3rd Act magazine | fall 2017
advice, knows just what “act your age” means. There is no Dr. Spock to illuminate how people who are 55, 65, 80, or even 90 should behave. Even more disturbing is how almost all of us—old and young alike—are prejudiced against older people, as Ashton Applewhite suggests in her book This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism. She believes that ageism is woven into the fabric of life, reinforced by the media and popular culture. I believe, however, that we are on the cusp of a cultural shift in our attitude toward aging. I am also encouraged by research affirming that today’s elders are healthier, happier, and more engaged than ever before. So how do we get rid of the “oughts” and “shoulds”? Let’s begin by casting out our own aging biases. Embrace lifelong learning. Get involved. Model for others how age 50, 65, 75, or 90 is for you. Finally, silence your own voice of judgment when it reminds you of society’s shoulds and oughts. In a Family Circus cartoon, Jeffy recalls, “Grandma always says, ‘well, in my day….’” He then asks, “Isn’t this still her day?” And we say—absolutely! www.3rdActMag.com
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Aging with Confidence
| 3rd Act magazine 11
GIVING VOICE TO VALUES
How will you Be
Remembered? BY REBECCA CRICHTON
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” —Maya Angelou
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. She has master’s degrees in child development and organizational development, and she is a certified coach.
A FRIEND RECENTLY LAUGHED AT MY NEWLY PAINTED TOENAILS. On each foot, in descending order from big toe to pinky, I’m sporting bright orange, teal blue, poppy red, shocking pink, and deep purple. If you can picture it, perhaps you are smiling. This experience led me to think about how I want to be remembered. I want people to remember that I made them laugh. I know people remember my favorite joke (the one about the Doberman and the Chihuahua). I know they think of me when they use my recipes for cilantro salsa or eggplant puttanesca. And I hope to be remembered for my generosity, love of beauty, loyalty, sense of humor, and curiosity. I started asking my close friends three questions: How do you want to be remembered? What do you want to be remembered for? What do you think others would say about you if asked? My friends’ responses frequently surprised me. Several people became defensive, declaring they didn’t care what others thought about them— they couldn’t control that in any case— while others explained how they
3rd Act magazine | fall 2017
have dealt with other people’s judgments over the course of their lives. When I first became a hospice volunteer, I helped a widowed client throw a 40th birthday party for his wife—six months after she died at age 39. We invited people who had come to her funeral, requesting stories and memories. It was a great event. We laughed and cried as we honored the unique ways she had touched each person. A mutual friend called me later, thanking me for the opportunity to share and hear the stories. She added, “I don’t want to wait until somebody I love dies to tell them what I love and value about them. I’m going to start telling the people in my life right now.” That was 30 years ago. Now it has become more common to have life celebrations for people who are facing death while they are still able to interact and be present. They receive the blessings and hear the memories and know, without a doubt, how much their life mattered to those gathered. We don’t need to be at the end of our lives to receive information about who we have been to those whose lives we have touched. We don’t need the people we care about to be declining before we share the stories and memories we have harvested from having them in our lives. It takes courage to ask what others appreciate and remember about us. And it takes kindness and compassion to let others know their value in our lives. What better time than now to start asking these questions of ourselves and others?
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HONOR YOUR LIFE
Getting better at
‘Making Things Better’ BY JENNIFER JAMES
IMAGINE A PLATE, A LETTUCE LEAF, and a pineapple ring on the leaf with half a banana standing in the hole like a candle. Put a dab of mayonnaise on the tip of the banana and a maraschino cherry on the top. OK, I made that “salad” for my parents at dinner when I was about 10. I earnestly wanted to make things in our harsh household better. I must have seen a photo of this thing in a magazine and thought it would make my parents happy. Maybe it did because my dad laughed. My mother made fun of me. I remember feeling shamed. Such setbacks didn’t stop me from a lifetime of compulsively trying to make things better. Wash it, fix it, brush it, organize it...and “it” would be better. Is this a woman thing, an instinct to clean up the cave—or a control thing, a way to feel safer? I think for me it was the desire for safety through the control of what could be controlled. I collected snow globes for years. They were perfect worlds that even when shaken, returned to themselves. My favorite was a black and white cat sitting in a comfy red chair, unperturbed by the snow falling. I wanted to be that cat without the snow. I wanted to change my life and the world in big ways with speeches, writing, counseling, and political campaigns. I thought I could create a clean, good, and just world for myself and others. I figured out at about 60, when my husband died, that control is fleeting and being shaken is life. Unexpected snow will fall. We can work hard, do our best, give what we can and clean up messes, but the world will always be confusing
3rd Act magazine | fall 2017
and chaotic, uncontrollable. We can only truly control our own behavior. I try to change the world now in smaller ways. I have retreated to a more or less peaceful haven for myself— home, friends, garden, animals. I admire my senior friends who are still willing to work in big ways for our greater good. Kate is an environmental powerhouse. Amal resettles refugees. Carla rescues and houses abused animals, usually horses. Terry brings the sacraments to those who are unable to leave their homes. Debby advocates for homeless women. There are many more I do not have space to name. My options are now quiet ones. I volunteered a few years ago as a baby washer at a center for at-risk children aged from birth to 5. My job was to receive a child, wash him or her, put on clean clothes, cuddle and pass this sweet being on to the teachers and counselors. I made things better, for a few moments. Encouragement is easy to offer whether it is for a child, a parent, or a young adult struggling to get an education. www.3rdActMag.com
Small gestures are available to all of us. On the road—patience, no honking, giving way, noticing pedestrians and bicyclists, getting out of the way of aggressive drivers (maybe he is rushing to the bedside of a sick child). It is easy to smile, notice, compliment. I encountered a charming young girl at the post office, maybe a new immigrant, and told her shy father how beautiful she was. He smiled from ear to ear and I still feel good remembering. I am careful about when to help and when not to help. Children and animals, picking up litter, yes, recycling, yes. Learning to leave well enough alone, maybe. People don’t like do-gooders or busy bodies. I know that any impulsive gesture I think is helpful needs to be genuine, thoughtful, and practical. It is important to be respectful, regardless. It is easy to compliment, appreciate, and thank all who service or help us and tell the manager when we are treated well. Last week I went to the dump to sort all my debris into appropriate
Aging with Confidence
recycling piles. An old toilet rode shotgun on the trip, complete with a seatbelt, on its way to porcelain heaven. Two men saw me struggling with it and laughed as they lifted it out of the car. I get help from strangers at the gas pump when my hands aren’t strong enough. They never hesitate. I asked my friends how they make things better in small ways. One loves to cook for family and church groups, one provides work and encouragement for millennials who are struggling, one drives friends to the airport, another organizes potlucks. What is on your list for making things better? Yes, there will always be snow falling in our world, even on sunny days. Yes, we will be shaken, but it is no longer scary snow, just life and we now know it will eventually settle again. As elders we are finally free to sit in that big red comfy chair as often as we want to—as long as we continue to make room for everyone else.
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 15
A Living Legacy
gifts into a Roth IRA of $2,000 per year for just 10 years, and assume a 7 percent hypothetical average annual return, in 40 years your family member would have almost $270,000 in their tax-free Roth IRA. 2017 TO 2057 $300,000
BY DON MCDONALD
LET ME START BY SAYING that I am not a big fan of creating a plan to pass wealth to family members (or others) after death, except in cases of actual need. Too often, the expectation of a future inheritance has led to negative consequences and the knowledge of an impending windfall suppresses ambition. People have even been known to kill for money. Alfred Nobel, explosives magnate and creator of the famous awards that bear his name, regarded “large inherited wealth as a misfortune, which merely serves to dull men’s faculties.” Also, unless you’re seriously wealthy, there is no way to know if you will even be in a position to leave your family much money after your death. So instead of wasting a significant amount of time and money planning for a postmortem legacy, why not start creating a truly valuable retirement legacy for your younger family members today. Looking back, wouldn’t it have been nice—when you were young and working your first jobs—if family members pooled the money used for gifts of clothes you never wore or electronics that quickly became obsolete and instead put $500 in an individual retirement account (IRA) set up for you. 1977 TO 2017 $300,000 $240,000 $180,000 About $165,000
$120,000 $50,000 $0
40-year hypothetical return on $500 invested annually for first 10 years at average anual return of 11% per year (the approximate 40-year average annual return of Standard & Poors 500).
Assume that $500 worth of annual gift money was invested in an IRA using Vanguard’s S&P 500 index fund starting in 1977 and every year for the next 10 years. The chart above shows the total amount invested ($5,000) and the value of the investment at the end of 40 years (about $165,000, assuming an 11 percent average annual return. Today, $2,000 in annual gifts is the inflation-adjusted equivalent of $500 in 1977. So, if you arranged for combined
3rd Act magazine | fall 2017
$0 40-year hypothetical return on $2,000 invested annually for first 10 years at an assumed average anual return of 7% per year.
How should you go about creating this immediate legacy plan? First, open a Roth IRA account. Do not do this with a bank, broker, or insurance agent! The high fees and commissions they charge will erode much of the future growth. Use only pure no-load, low-fee, passive (not actively managed) mutual funds. Since most of your gift recipients will be younger, it makes sense to invest in the one asset class that has topped the rest in long-term returns—stocks. Your young loved ones certainly have the time to ride the ups and downs of the global stock market. Because diversification practically eliminates the risk of total loss, I’d suggest a globally diversified index fund from Vanguard. If you plan to invest more than $3,000 initially, consider opening an account with Vanguard and investing in Vanguard Total World Stock Index fund (VTWSX). Those starting with smaller amounts can avoid the account minimums by using Vanguard’s almost identical ETF (exchange traded fund), symbol VT, which only requires the purchase of a single share (currently around $70). You can quickly set up a no-fee Roth IRA (with electronic statements) at vanguard.com. In addition to providing your loved one with some future peace of mind, your living legacy of a Roth IRA can provide a powerful example to encourage additional retirement savings, further improving their future prospects. The host of the nationally syndicated Don McDonald Show for over 20 years, Don now co-hosts Talking Real Money with Tom Cock on Seattle’s KOMO radio Saturdays at noon (talkingrealmoney.com). Don also publishes the investing magazine, real investing journal (realinvestingjournal.com). Past performance is not indicative of future returns and the value of investments and the income derived from them can go down as well as up. Future returns are not guaranteed and a loss of principal may occur. The material in this article is based on information from a variety of sources we consider reliable, but we do not represent that the information is accurate or complete. The material provided herein is for informational purposes only. Disclaimer for hypothetical returns. All returns presented are hypothetical and back-tested. Hypothetical returns are net of estimated advisory fees and transaction costs; all dividends are assumed to be reinvested annually. Actual returns from live portfolios may differ materially from hypothetical returns. There is no substitute for actual returns from a live portfolio. Past hypothetical performance is not a guarantee of future returns.
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LIVING BY DESIGN
Finding the Silver Lining BY DENISE KLEIN
Denise Klein led the King County Area Agency on Aging for 12 years, was Senior Services’ CEO for 10 years, and spent 13 years as a national consultant on aging. She has served on numerous non-profit boards, received two national leadership awards, and is currently the executive director for Wider Horizons, a Village Network community in Seattle. (www. widerhorizonsvillage.org)
WHILE AGING IS BASICALLY GOOD, one of my favorite things about it is its complexity. When things don’t go as you’d hoped, or when you get bad news, there may be a silver lining— as I learned in 2003. Soon after my 60th birthday, I had a mastectomy for a breast cancer originally thought to be nonaggressive. I had no lymph node involvement. Out of the blue, though, my inexperienced oncologist called and told me I had, at most, two years to live. She was taking the word of an overconfident radiologist, who read a routine liver scan and thought the white specks on my liver were metastasized breast cancer. After my initial terror wore off, I did some quick end-of-life planning and had important conversations with my children. Imagine our delight when the diagnosis was reversed by a second radiologist: The white spots were merely one more sign of aging! I had my life back and I have not regretted the earlier bad news for an instant in the last 14 years. The most important learning, the most silvery of the silver linings, was that after that experience I could truly feel, “Death, where is thy sting?” Being unafraid has allowed me to refine my early end-of-life planning many times and to see that it can be a continuous, even enjoyable process. My second example: My husband, David, had a moderately severe stroke a year ago. Previously, I’d only had to depend on friends and family for very occasional assistance. Suddenly, I needed a
3rd Act magazine | fall 2017
whole team of people to relieve me on a regular basis from my full-time caregiving duties. And this went on for a month or two. My friends and my fellow members of Wider Horizons Village rallied and came to our home for two to four hours so I could get out for errands and recreation. What a wonderful gift! This team of people enjoyed being on the giving end and paying it forward. No one was stretched beyond his or her limits—especially me! Quite a few less dramatic events associated with aging have provided my husband and me with the opportunity to leave a better legacy for our five children. That legacy has two parts. First, by anticipating and planning for ourselves,
we relieve them of that responsibility. Second, we model for them the behavior that many of us, deeply embroiled in eldercare with parents who don’t seem to want our help, wish had been modeled for us. The unadulterated good news is that you can plan ahead at any time—not just when a crisis occurs! Human nature seems to make us ignore all early warning signs so planning often happens in the breach—but if you can plan before the crisis hits, so much the better. So that is what the overarching theme for this and future columns from me will be: Planning ahead for your aging is a wonderful legacy you can give your children. www.3rdActMag.com
Aging with Confidence
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THE LIGHTER SIDE
The Power of Unexpected Gratitude BY ANNIE CULVER
If you’ve watched comedian Jimmy Fallon on NBC’s The Tonight Show, pen in hand at his desk with notecards, theme music tinkling in the background, you’re familiar with how he expresses gratitude for some of the least expected happenings.
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. In recent years, she morphed into a writer for several universities in the Northwest. She retired in 2016, yet still enjoys freelancing.
“Thank you, ants around my kitchen sink, for allowing every day to start with murder,” he writes. Barack and Michelle Obama, on separate occasions, were among those who joined in writing playful thank-you notes with Fallon. “Thank you, Barack,” wrote Michelle shortly before Donald Trump took office, “for proving you’re not a lame duck but my very own silver fox.” The wacky thank-you note segments became such a hit, Fallon and his writers produced books of them. When you squeeze the second book, it launches Fallon’s thank-you theme music to add to the comedy. Interesting in this year of polarizing politics that Parade declared 2017 the “year of being kind” and claims gratitude is proven to boost happiness and well-being. The Sunday newspaper supplement challenged its readers to write 52 thank-you notes—one a week to a different person for a year. There’s also a book by John
3rd Act magazine | fall 2017
Kralik called 365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life. Whoa! These days thank-you notes are still rare, though. They’re either overlooked or sent as perfunctory emails and texts. A handwritten thank you? Unlikely. Yet even the nearest post office sells thank-you cards to nudge grateful expressions. You’ve probably heard and read—in the pages of this magazine, in fact—that writing letters is a healthy pastime. You can step it up a bit and create out-of-the-blue thank yous to amplify letter-writing for both sender and receiver. Long ago, I started thinking about those I wanted to thank in writing for their kindheartedness. I knew I’d better hop to it because some of these folks seemed to be aging faster than I was. Among them, teachers, former bosses, a couple who took me in as a teenager for a few crucial months so I could finish high school before heading off to college. Unfortunately, I discovered obituaries in my searches for some. That gave me incentive to begin this creative exercise without further procrastination. First I wrote to those who had been there for me after my Mom died and my Dad was unable to care for me. I had turned to this couple, fingers crossed, hoping I could find a spot among their eight kids. In my thank you—which I’d expressed face-to-face numerous times, but never in writing—I knew I had to sidestep effusive and disingenuous. Waiting 25 years made that a lot easier. Still, I wanted to convey what a pivotal role they played in my ability to move forward in life. www.3rdActMag.com
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When one of their daughters told me my thank-you note was still on their fireplace mantel several months later, I knew that creating unexpected kindness would become more than a pastime. I received a forwarded email a decade ago about my newspaper boss from the early 1980s who was blue and disoriented after moving into an assisted-living facility. Joe’s 82nd birthday was just a few weeks off and those who received this update were urged to send him birthday cards. Although it had been nearly 30 years since I’d seen him, I included some heartfelt words. “You may not be aware of it, but you taught me a great deal in a very short time. Your support for my work gave me a lot more confidence in my abilities. Whenever I think of the ideal newspaper, I always envision a vibrant newsroom with you, Joe, at its helm,” I wrote. Joe and I struck up a correspondence after that and I started sending him goofy Christmas and birthday presents to evoke a smile. “It’s nice to know you’re out there and think such kind thoughts about me,” he wrote. Joe and the couple who rescued me as a teenager are gone now. It’s gratifying to know I had a chance to thank them in writing for how important they were. Aging with Confidence
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Writing Your Life Story? Start in the Middle
o you want to grandmother heating write a memoir. water in an oval tub on Where do you the wood stove and start? Start in the having a strong man middle. Start with tote it to the back something that tickles yard. Monday was your fancy. wash day. Another Ruby wrote of ice tub of warm water skating on the lake, sat nearby in which BY FRANCES S. DAYEE then helping her to rinse the clothes. family cut and haul blocks of ice to the ice house. Bluing was put in a rinse for white clothes. Hand wringing We watched her family layer a base of hay on which to was the next chore, then clothes were pegged to the bed the ice. We saw them hanging meat from the rafters. clothesline. Sue told about her father asking her to dive from What was your first washing machine like? Mine was a the high board she’d previously jumped from, and how wringer washer. I still had to rinse in a separate tub but the she froze. She didn’t want to disappoint her father, an wringer removed the extra water. I still hung my clothes accomplished diver, so she put her arms out and dived. from a clothesline. Then I graduated to a washer and dryer. The belly flop was heard around the world, but the smile What a saver that was. of pride on her father’s face convinced Sue to dive again Perhaps you went hunting with your favorite uncle and and again and again until she also became accomplished. he taught you how to track and shoot. Or did your dad Almuht showed the determination of her mother who teach you how to fly fish in a cold mountain stream? tracked a jaguar in the jungles of Brazil to reclaim uneaten Keep writing the stories as you think of them, stories parts of the sheep it had stolen from their meager herd. you feel. You don’t need to touch every facet of your life. “My life isn’t that exciting,” you may say. But it is to those You can reveal the skeletons in the closet . . . or not. Write who have not lived it. Your existence holds treasures. to please yourself. How did you react the day President Kennedy was One day you will have enough, and it will be time to shot? We all remember where we were when we heard arrange the pieces in order. The result will be your memoir. the dreaded news. And that will be the time to sit back with pride, knowing Did you follow the space race? How did you feel when you accomplished your goal and created a lasting legacy. we landed on the moon? Were you glued to the TV? Did But for now, it’s fine to start in the middle! you hear the words, “That’s one small step for man, one Frances Dayee’s manuscript critique classes have been available locally for over 16 years. Her expertise has produced both fiction and nonfiction published giant leap for mankind,” spoken by Neil Armstrong? writers. Frances has published three books; a column called Love and Popcorn, As you write, you will be reminded of other times of for a Canadian magazine; and numerous nonfiction articles. Contact Frances your life that impacted you. Perhaps it was watching your at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3rd Act magazine | fall 2017
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What Will I Give Back? How to Discover What Your Soul Still Longs to Do BY JOHN C. ROBINSON
3rd Act magazine | fall 2017
onscious Aging organizations encourage elders to contribute their time, energy, wisdom, and experience in “giving back” to the world. So when I retired, I was surprised by how much resistance I felt to getting involved. First of all, it felt like going back to work—and I was done with the work grind. I didn’t want a schedule or obligations. Second, the world’s problems seemed so great, the obstacles so big, the answers so elusive, the possibilities so many, I just threw up my hands. And finally there was the problem of finding something that really spoke to me. This was more difficult than I imagined, but it may be the most important element of all. I have heard this same struggle from many of my older friends and the elders I’ve met at many conferences I’ve spoken at, so I think there is something really important here. This question of how to “give back” did not resolve for me until I finally accepted who I really was at the deepest level. Why is such a personal search important? Here’s one answer eloquently expressed by theologian Howard Thurman. He said, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” The journey of discernment. How do you find this work of your soul, this work that brings you alive? The answer often comes somewhere along the journey of discernment. As a psychologist, minister, and mystic, I view discernment from a spiritual and depth-oriented perspective. It implies a prolonged and heartfelt search for one’s truest vocation or calling: Why am I here? What did I come here to do? What really lights my fire? To answer these questions, I believe conscious elders need to explore several important discernment factors that will either intensify or diminish our passion and aliveness in giving back. Consider these factors when you’re exploring potential giving-back activities. True self. This is who you really are inside, your inborn “given” nature. This self is hard wired—you don’t get a choice on this! You may be a high-energy, action-oriented person, a quiet reflective one, a hard-headed or soft-hearted person, a fixer or healer, an artist or intellectual, a mystic or a skeptic, a gardener or academic. You already know a lot about who you really are by how you act naturally and what you love to do. So finding your path is not about what you should do,
Aging with Confidence
it’s about who you really are and what you’ve been given to do by your own nature. The ego-soul relationship. Soul refers to the spiritual essence of the true self. I use the word soul to emphasize its deep and abiding importance in our life. The ego, on the other hand, is the “me” that’s in charge. (I am writing from the ego’s point of view.) In the long run, the ego’s most important job in discernment is to understand and support the soul so that we can share the inborn gifts with the world. When the soul is taken over by someone else’s ego and its agenda, or when the ego becomes too attached to its own importance or beliefs and becomes inflated, we lose touch with the soul’s vision and purpose. Then we can run busily in endless activities and not really achieve anything truly life changing. The introversion/extroversion continuum. Some people thrive as extroverts, acting forcefully in the world in leadership roles, social organizing, campaigns, protests, and rallies; they get energy from social connection that feeds them. Others flourish as introverts, working best from their inner life in more solitary roles, one-to-one relationships, small groups, or contemplative forms of activism, such as prayer and visualization; they get energy and inspiration from solitude and deep self-connection. So we need to know whether we are an “out there” or “inside” person, for the spheres and means of our “giving back” will vary accordingly. The changing experience of age. Aging is a profound experience. It will change your life. It’s also a movement from “doing” to “being.” In general, the young and middleaged need to be active and goal-oriented. They’re busy in the doing mode. Conscious elders, those of us who have spent a lifetime on this journey of awakening, are full to the brim with wisdom, experience, heart, and soul and, as a result, have more access to the being mode. In the being mode, we increasingly act from the richness and depth of our own deeply seasoned nature, trusting the mulch of experience, no longer relying on externally defined goals, strategies, priorities, and authorities. This doing-being shift grows ever more important as we continue to age. Shifts in gender energies. How we express this new depth of being also differs depending on how we use the inborn masculine and feminine energies and modes of being we all share. We express our archetypal masculine energies in competition, quest, and conquest. We express our archetypal feminine energies in nurturing, caretaking, and nesting,
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devoting ourselves to nourishing children, family, hearth, and home. But aging can change the balance of masculine and feminine energies. Some of us, having depleted our masculine aggressive energies, now need to express our feminine energies through caretaking and deep being. Others, having spent their feminine side, now need to express more aggressive and action-oriented activities out in the world. The path of spiritual practice. Giving back takes on even greater personal significance when you engage your work from a spiritual perspective. You can integrate spirituality into your “giving back” in three ways. The first is sacred activism, in which the depth of your spirituality moves you to care for the world. The second way is through subtle activism, where a gathering of like-minded people creates a subtle force field to bring healing energies to traumatized places or groups. A third form of spiritual expression arises as you awaken divine consciousness within, transforming yourself and your perception of the world. In this third form, described in my book The Divine Human, the experience of our own divine being leads spontaneously to sacred action.
I believe that assessing the five factors noted above can help you find your most natural and meaningful way of “giving back.” To review, ask yourself questions like: • What are the natural gifts of my true self? • How well do I, as ego, support my soul in the expression of these gifts? • Am I acting in alignment with my natural introversion or extroversion? • Have I appreciated the changing experience of age and archetypal gender energies in this new time? And… • Does my spirituality add a sixth dimension to my “giving back?” As you can see, one size does not fit all. We are not meant to be cookie cutter social activists, and imposing the wrong expectations on yourself or another will only generate motivational and interpersonal problems. No one can tell you what kind of work or life you should seek; that job of discernment is yours. So honor these factors and let them guide and enrich your path to love and service. John C. Robinson is a clinical psychologist; an ordained interfaith minister; the author of nine books and numerous articles on the psychology, spirituality, and mysticism of the New Aging; and a frequent speaker. You can learn more about his work at johnrobinson.org.
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3rd Act magazine | fall 2017
y son will, hopefully, be gifted with my legacy after I’ve died—an example of how to live a full, potent, mostly graceful fall into a love affair with life itself. The length is less important than the meaty, juicy marrow in the heart of it. Quality over quantity has been my motto for ages, and the best place to show this value is in life itself. Quality vs. quantity of life is a burning subject these days. Quality is more than just the lack of suffering. It’s measured by the vitality, the creativity, and individual craftsmanship of one’s life. All the measures of our uniqueness go into that definition. It’s one completely different answer for each person. Quality of life can be a poem or prose about access to art and beauty, money, and love. It’s a sonnet about peace and joy, compassion for others and self. But when describing it to others whose task it is to accompany, support, and protect that definition, poetry is hard to pin down into medical orders. Here’s another way to look at the question of “What does quality of life mean to you?” Try reframing the question to “What is so important to you that you wouldn’t want to live without it?” Some possibilities: • Being able to self-toilet • Walk or drive • Know who my son is • Know who my husband is • See • Able to feed myself • Read a book and understand what I read 10 minutes later • Live without fear These are markers. Think of them as a landscape. Imagine you’re walking from an open
Aging with Confidence
Take Time to Define
Quality of Life BY ASHLEY T. BENEM
field toward a tree line of lightly scattered trees that progressively get denser as you go further into the woods. As you age or as a disease progresses, you are headed into the woods of your dying. As you go, you pass a tree and then another. Each tree is a marker, or measure, of something you held as quality of life. Passing one tree isn’t usually a problem. Two, three, even four might not be a deal breaker. But as they go by, your quality of life diminishes. The important thing is to know what the markers are, to recognize them and to acknowledge them as you go. It’s immeasurably valuable to have open conversations with your family and support team about what these markers are. It’s impossible to advocate or support something that has not been described to you, and folks become anxious trying to support the quality of life for someone who hasn’t defined or discussed what that means to them. Knowing when you have reached the deeper woods is important for you and them. And the dream of my legacy? My legacy will be one of how to live a rich, fully lived life that ended with clarity and awareness both for me and the people around me. That’s money, baby. Pure gold!
Ashley T. Benem is the founder of the nonprofit A Sacred Passing: Death Midwifery Service and the creator of the Art of Death Conference. She is an advocate for palliative and end-of-life care issues, empowering and supporting families to reclaim their right to die in congruence with their lives. Contact Ashley at asacredpassing@ gmail.com.
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Leaving a Legacy of a Safer BY SUSAN BRANDZEL
Susan Brandzel is a freelance writer from Bainbridge Island. In high school, she was voted “Most Likely to Be a Talk Show Host.” She subsequently translated her curious compunctions into a vocation that gives voice to the human experience. In addition to writing, Susan is a public health professional and mother to two daughters and a rescue dog from Guatemala.
When people think of the word “grandmother,” certain common associations come to mind: wise, nurturing, retired. But a group of Seattle area grandmothers have added another important term to that list: activist. Deeply dismayed by the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, four local women, still in shock and grief about the massacre, gathered for coffee and brainstorming about what they could do to prevent further gun violence. “We were all grandmothers of 6-year-olds,” says one of the four founders, Margy Heldring, “We realized it could have been us.” This get-together resulted in the formation of the grassroots advocacy group Grandmothers Against Gun Violence (GAGV). The organization, now with at least 700 supporters, has developed a critical presence around Washington state as a voice for gun legislation aimed at reducing injuries and deaths from guns. Women’s reasons for joining GAGV are varied. Some feel it is their civic duty. Others relate it to a personal experience. All want to leave a legacy of a safer society for generations to follow. Kathy Young, the grandmother of two teenage boys, had a deeply personal reason for joining
3rd Act magazine | fall 2017
GAGV. In 1989, her 17-year-old daughter shot and killed herself with a gun that was given to her by an adult with whom she had spent time when she was having personal problems. By the time GAGV formed 23 years later, the issue of gun violence remained a high priority for Young. “I just feel very strongly that we need a little more (say) over who does and doesn’t get a gun,” she says. “We need to understand who has them and why.” GAGV has given Young beneficial social support as well as a platform for sharing testimony with the Washington State Legislature to advocate for improved common sense gun laws. Ann Buchner, a GAGV member and donor, first started learning about the deleterious effects of guns from her father, a surgeon who used his vocation to share the statistics about gun injuries with his adult children starting in the 1970s. Buchner took interest then, and subsequently had a couple of unpleasant personal circumstances related to guns. “I have just always found guns frightening,” Buchner says. So when GAGV formed in her neighborhood, she decided to join. Now a resident at the Horizon House retirement community, Buchner works to share information about gun control and legislation with fellow residents. She hopes to organize a speakers bureau to address the issue, especially around the time of any election that might impact gun laws. It is this type of grassroots action that defines GAGV’s approach to improving knowledge and legislation about reducing gun violence. www.3rdActMag.com
Grandmothers Against Gun Violence takes action in Washington State. From left to right, marching to take a public stand on reducing gun violence; lobbying legislators in Olympia to vote for gun safety measures; gathering signatures for gun safety initiatives; presenting our mission at the Governor’s mansion in Olympia.
Susan Woods, who joined GAGV soon after its inception, describes herself as having a long history of activism. She has invested her time and energy in political campaigns and legislative improvements, and she finds deep meaning in the organization’s mission. “GAGV speaks to me personally,” Woods shares. “It brings together people in my age group, motivates and empowers us to stand up and speak out. GAGV’s impact is in its numbers, its consistency, and its relentlessness.” Of course, there are grandfathers against gun violence. But, notes co-founder Heldring, “It has often, maybe even always been women who lead the way on social change. Now we are grandmothers and still have a zest for activism. The energy and commitment of our members and supporters never runs down. We show up, stand up, speak up. It is an honor to belong to this community of women.” Although GAGV membership is robust and impressive, they are always looking for more people to help with the cause, whether by attending events intended to increase knowledge about gun safety, traveling to Olympia to show political support for gun legislation, raising or donating funds to support the organization’s mission, or forging new channels through which GAGV’s goals of reducing gun violence can be met. Membership is $20 per year. To learn more or join, visit grandmothersagainstgunviolence.org, or search for Grandmothers Against Gun Violence on Facebook. Aging with Confidence
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Bob Nicholson Honors His Past While Living a Full Present BY ANN HEDREEN PHOTOGRAPHY BY JEFF CAVEN
At 85, the Rev. Robert “Bob” Nicholson doesn’t mind the word “older.” But he’s not so crazy about “retired.” “I have an advanced degree in getting older,” he declares, as we enter his sunny corner apartment at Aljoya Thornton Place, which is full of books and papers and neatly labeled files for his many current projects. The walls are happily crowded with watercolors by his late wife, Betty; shelves and tables are filled with mementos and photos that hint at the full life they led together: Bob as a Presbyterian minister and Betty as a teacher, activist,
3rd Act magazine | fall 2017
artist, ordained church elder, and pioneering gerontologist. It was Betty who embraced the notion of a senior living community. Perhaps she understood, even better than Bob, that it would be the perfect place for their third acts; that it would give them the freedom to fill their lives with everything they really cared about. Bob dove right in, serving as a board member and eventually as president of the National Continuing Care Retirement Association. Because diving in is what Bob Nicholson does: rolling up his sleeves and working to make the world a better place. He is firm in his belief that older adults must be actively involved in the evolution and development of their own communities. “If it’s about us, include us,” he says. Betty died two years ago. She and Bob were married for 57 years, and Bob pondered how
best to publicly remember her legacy. He decided to commission, in her honor, a pocket pamphlet about the Thornton Creek Water Quality Channel, the 2.7 acre natural area just outside the Aljoya building that acts, in the pamphlet’s words, as a “human-designed and engineered substitute” for the real creek and wetlands that disappeared deep underground when Northgate Mall construction began in 1948. The pamphlet explains how the channel filters pollutants that could hurt salmon fingerlings, and lists the native plants that now grow there and the dozens of birds that visit. Bob tries hard to follow the advice that Betty used in her own workshops for people who had suffered a recent loss. Accept grief, she would say. Talk about it. Don’t rush it. Suggest ways friends can help. Stay engaged in meaningful activity and relationships. The Thornton Creek pamphlet project gave him a chance to talk often about Betty’s love of nature and her affection for this newly re-established pocket of it. And it resulted in a useful tool for generations to come: one that captures the attitude of “expectancy for life” that Bob and Betty have always embodied. Shortly after Bob was ordained to the ministry in 1957 at age 24, he was named the first fulltime secretary for World Youth Projects with the World Council of Churches, based in New York and Geneva. He went on to serve in several churches including Lake City Presbyterian Church in Seattle for 14 years, where he started a support group for caregivers. In Oakland, California, he founded the area’s first senior center and a study skills/ homework help program that served 650 young adults; in Lubbock, Texas, he persuaded medical professionals to volunteer in the area’s only medical clinic for the working poor. He has also served in countless elected positions for the national Presbyterian church. Since his official “retirement” in 1995, Bob has stepped in as an interim minister in Juneau, Alaska, and, just this spring, in Ketchikan, where he had the honor of blessing the fishing fleet in an annual ceremony featuring bagpipers, drums, and a United States Coast Guard color guard. He has also stayed active as a United States Soccer Federation referee; as an onboard interpreter on Amtrak’s Empire Builder run from Seattle to Glacier Park, Montana; and as a member of Amtrak’s national Customer Advisory Committee. Aging with Confidence
He also serves frequently as a guest minister at Presbyterian churches in the Puget Sound area. One recent Sunday, when Bob filled in for the vacationing minister at Rainier Beach Presbyterian Church, he came bearing gifts. One was a “Presbyterian
The message of his sermon was simple: “Discover that the power is in the yes, and you will find a life blessed beyond belief.”
mezuzah” bearing traditional Hebrew text and the intertwined vines of the Celtic cross, symbolic of the “interconnectedness of life.” He also filled the offering baskets with his own stapled booklets of meditations on how to make your prayer life more positive, urging his audience to take this gift from him before they gave gifts from their own pockets. The message of his sermon was simple: “Discover that the power is in the yes, and you will find a life blessed beyond belief.” The Rev. Bob Nicholson can testify to the truth of that statement, because he has lived it all his life. And by the time you read this, I am confident he will have said yes to something absolutely new. Ann Hedreen is a writer, filmmaker, and the author of Her Beautiful Brain, winner of a 2016 Next Generation Indie book award. Together, Ann and her husband Rustin Thompson own White Noise Productions and have made more than 150 short films and five feature documentaries, including Quick Brown Fox: an Alzheimer’s Story. Their newest film, set in Peru and inspired by Ann’s great-uncle, is Zona Intangible.
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THE ART OF COMPASSIONATE LISTENING SEEDING PEACE IN DIFFICULT TIMES by Andrea Cohen
After the last election, I almost lost a good friend. I know I am not alone in this experience, as family connections and friendships across the country became frayed—sometimes beyond repair—by the political divide. The friendship was precious to us both, but how could we communicate across this gulf?
3rd Act magazine | fall 2017
After calming myself, I realized that I was being Perhaps ones where you have a preconceived notion or challenged to use the Compassionate Listening skills I had judgment about a specific situation or person. Stepping into been teaching for years. The difference in how we voted the situation with a clear intention to listen, understand, and reflected deeply held beliefs about the world. Reaching out to connect this time around can make a huge difference in the see what I might better understand about my friend’s beliefs outcome. was the lifeline for saving our relationship. Practice a centering strategy. If you are going to be with a I was first introduced to Compassionate Listening when person you’ve been triggered by in the past, have in mind I was directing a film in the Middle East about a project a strategy for calming down if that happens again. From a that brought Jews and Palestinians together to listen to each place of greater calm, you’ll be able to be more intentional in other’s stories. We listened to Palestinian villagers who your response—and that, too, can make a huge difference had suffered humiliation and loss of freedom due to Israeli in the outcome. Breathe…and practice a centering strategy occupation and to a Jewish West Bank settler whose mother of your choice every day. It might be a visualization, a had fled to Palestine during the Holocaust. There were many mantra, a prayer, a song—anything that feeds your soul and others we listened to as well, and all had makes you smile. shared the experience of human anguish. Be curious. If you’re listening to another HEARING IS Since that time, I have become a person, do it with true curiosity about SOMETHING Compassionate Listening facilitator what may be at the heart of their concern, HUMANS DO dedicated to helping people deepen behavior, or belief—for them. For just a NATURALLY DUE TO moment, try to stand in their shoes. their ability to connect in challenging situations. Whether Israelis and OUR BIOLOGY, BUT Listen for their values. Acknowledge Palestinians, Jews and Muslims, Russians COMPASSIONATELY another person’s feelings, and try to listen and Ukrainians, or Chinese and Tibetans, LISTENING TO beneath their words for the positive values hearing each other’s stories helps people ANOTHER REQUIRES that might be alive for them. Simply understand and humanize the “other” AN ADDED MEASURE reflecting back those values (by saying in a way they never thought possible. something like, “It seems you really care OF FOCUS, SKILL, Hearing is something humans about family, honesty, fairness …”) can truly AND INTENTION. do naturally due to our biology, but make someone feel heard and help them compassionately listening to another better understand why the story they’re requires an added measure of focus, skill, telling is so important. But if you find yourself talking and intention. Most of us experience frustration when we’re more than listening, it’s likely to be more about you than not being fully listened to. Another’s interruption, judgment, about them. analysis, interpretation, or attempt to “fix” our situation As I look at the deepening religious, ethnic, and political is often well meaning, but leaves us feeling that we aren’t rifts threatening the fabric of our country today, I know that being heard. healing these divides will take time and patience, as well And we have all witnessed good intentions evaporate as a great deal of resolve, courage, and skill. Here are some when people talk about hot topics—discussions that additional tips that might be helpful if you’re talking to frequently result in hardened positions and deeper divides. someone whose perspectives differ from yours: But there is another way to be with others that can promote Steer clear of debating about “facts.” You may never understanding and healing. agree on them. Listening and speaking from the heart requires a quality of presence that both speaker and listener can sense. Avoid labels.Describing someone with a broad brushstroke Its essence is that of sacred witness. can make us feel better about ourselves, but labels all too There are things we can do to help translate the lofty ideals often reinforce a negative perception of the other person. of heart-to-heart connection into concrete actions. And with For example, I might self-label as “liberal” and, by inference, continual practice, we can strengthen these skills so they’re label you as “conservative,” or I’m “progressive” and you’re available to us when we most need them. Here are some “reactionary.” Yet labels over-simplify people and complex “how-to’s” that can help: issues. They obstruct the journey to the heart of nuance, Have a positive intention. Try to anticipate situations like those in which you have reacted negatively in the past. Aging with Confidence
where the potential for glimmers of common understanding and creative collaboration exist. (continued on next page)
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3rd Act magazine | fall 2017
Check your intentions and avoid questions that are thinly veiled attempts to convince the other person that we’re right and they’re wrong. Such questions can be a clear invitation for the other person to defend their position even more vigorously, which might lead you to do the same. Compassionate Listening practice is based in openness of both heart and mind. So ask yourself honestly, “Am I willing to be impacted in some small way by what I hear?” If the answer is a big NO, wait until you’re able to soften your heart enough to truly consider another’s “truth.” Otherwise, you may find yourself engaging in a futile exercise that could do more harm than good. When I think of autumn, I think of change. I think of it as a season for renewing friendships and for taking on new challenges. My wish for all of us is that we use this season to show up with compassion and connect with kindness…despite our differences. I believe that the greatest gifts we can bring to others this season may well be the ones we don’t need to spend a dime on. The ones that might have a ripple effect of unknown positive impact somewhere down the line in a place we can’t yet imagine. Our own health—and that of our families, friends, country and, indeed, our planet depend on it! Andrea Cohen is the author of Practicing the Art of Compassionate Listening, a practical guidebook that helps people use listening skills in the heat of daily life challenges. She was co-director of a Jewish-German Reconciliation Project and director of the Compassionate Listening film Children of Abraham. Andrea facilitates Compassionate Listening workshops locally and internationally, and integrates its fundamentals into dialogue events, the workplace, and communities in conflict.
Wasn’t that she had fallen off a horse There were times when her own haste messed her up Sending her to the unforgiving earth Spooked mares and spirited ponies taught her To regain control without angry fits. But the last time she slid off a saddle There was no way of knowing, at the time, That it might be the last ride of her life. The good life of a sensible woman Something would keep her feet firmly planted. For a while she longed to have time to ride Then time convinced her she waited too long. There were younger women who saw a spark Over the excuses she recited, Peer pressure, touting caution and wisdom, Corralled the spark with sensibilities Then came a job that needed one more horse. She waited for someone else to step up, Her heart wanted to help, her hip did not. Standing at the fence, she faced her own words “You can do anything you put your mind to” It takes a spirit to raise a spirit She never thought this is where it would land her. There she stood, reins in hand, facing her choice, Walk away always wondering or try. With the trepidation of a young girl Eyes wide open, a screech of joy and fear, She was in the saddle, ready to ride Sure, she’d be sore as hell, she didn’t care Her peers would scowl at the imprudence Voices of dissent became whispers on the wind, She couldn’t hear them over the hoof beats, And the women cheering her bravery As she rode away, into her sunset.
by Laura Tarasoff
Laura Tarasoff is a writer, poet, explorer, and believer of people. Her wonderings, musings and scattered thoughts can be found on her blog; FindingHopeInTheDarkness.blogspot.com. Some of her fun poetry, based on a collection of shot glasses, can be found at PoetryByTheShot.wordpress.com.
Aging with Confidence
fall fall2017 2017
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THE POWER OF A SMIDGEN:
Applied Brain Science
hat’s a smidgen got to do with brain science? A lot! Smidgens could be the key to improving the future health of our brain. We’re now living in what will forever be known as the golden age of brain science. An estimated 95 percent of everything that’s ever been discovered about older brains has been discovered since Mt. St. Helens erupted in 1980—and, through brain science, we’re now learning how to apply the science to real-life challenges. Brain science isn’t rocket science. It’s a lot harder. We’ve been to the moon and back and if we spent enough money, we could get to Mars. But after decades of trying, there’s still no pill, no tonic, or even enough money to buy our way out of cognitive decline. But there is some evidence-based good news—we can improve the health of our brains by changing the way we treat our brains—one smidgen at a time. It starts with falling in love
with our brain and treating it with the care we’d give a beloved. While we will continue to hope for a cure for Alzheimer’s and other dementias, we can do something right now to promote healthy brains. “Something” can be as tiny as a “smidgen,” as long as it’s a positive smidgen that is done strategically and regularly. What’s a positive smidgen? Think of it as a mini-happy hour that serves delicious, brain-healthy food for thought. You’re reading this article! You’re reading this magazine! This certainly counts as a positive something. Every time your brain is stimulated by anything, a sequence of electrical charges travels through your brain a bit like the Pony Express, triggering all kinds of chemical reactions to help deliver messages. Over a hundred neurochemicals have been discovered. The best known are dopamine, serotonin, cortisol, endorphins, and oxytocin. To help promote brain health, we need to learn how
BY ROGER ANUNSEN
3rd Act magazine | fall 2017
to control the flow of these chemicals—to regulate the negative chemicals that weaken the brain, and stimulate the positive chemicals that strengthen the brain. Pop quiz! What’s the name of your favorite pet of all time? By remembering your pet, you just created a gush of positive brain chemicals. You’re a smidgen healthier just by conjuring a positive emotional thought. You might visualize your brain as a laboratory with faucets that are full of neurochemicals. When your brain is stimulated by one of your senses or when you think about anything, you get what we call a NeuroSquirt. Your everyday goal is to make sure that your positive NeuroSquirts outnumber your negative ones. A game-changing 2013 study from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden concluded that combinations of positive lifestyle interventions had a synergistic effect that prevented cognitive decline. The Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability (known as the FINGER Study) combined lifestyle interventions that simultaneously targeted essential areas of brain health. The results, presented at the annual Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Copenhagen in 2014, confirmed that cognitive decline can be prevented. That study has been replicated by researchers in Australia and Singapore. But what about in the U.S.? More good news: A $20 million U.S. study was announced at this summer’s AAIC in London and will begin in 2018. I’m confident that the U.S. study will reach the same conclusion: We can prevent cognitive decline. Those five words should positively stimulate your brain, at least a smidgen. Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment lived a robust life to the age of 122 and a half, which is the longest human lifespan ever recorded. In her late teens—when she was 117, that is—she revealed one of the many “somethings” she did: chocolate! Dark chocolate. She sometimes ate a kilo per week. That’s more than two pounds! But she didn’t eat it all on a Tuesday or a Friday. She ate dime-sized smidgens of chocolate throughout the week. Small daily doses are believed to have helped her brain as well as her heart. Anyone ready for a brain-healthy smidgen of dark chocolate? When you embrace daily doses of smidgens, you’ll be helping to build a “brain reserve,” a structural safety net. Research, including the famous long-running study of several hundred nuns, reveals that when we have a solid brain reserve it is possible to mask the symptoms of cognitive decline, even if at autopsy the subject’s brain is riddled with plaques and tangles, the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. Here are a few take-away positive smidgens: Mind your mind. Your brain changes both structurally and functionally depending on what you do, what you say, what you think, and what you experience. These changes can be either positive or negative. Pay attention to your thoughts. Learn what puts your brain at risk and stop it by redirecting your thoughts and actions. Learn what strengthens your brain and do it—one smidgen after the other for the rest of your life, for the sake of your brain’s future. Roger Anunsen is a brain health educator and program consultant based in Portland where he teaches college gerontology courses including The Aging Mind. Roger has been working in the field of memory and aging since 2001 and is a co-founder of MINDRAMP Consulting that provides nationwide brain health events, staff training, and educational courses.
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BEAT CANCER? EXERCISE IS EVEN MORE IMPORTANT FOR YOU
“You wouldn’t know it to see me, but I am a beast,” says Vickie Grams, a 12-year survivor of breast cancer. She credits her newfound love of life and exercise to her support group and her oncologist, the indefatigable Dr. Julie Gralow, director of breast medical oncology at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and one of the original founders of Team Survivor Northwest. Exhausted after cancer treatment, exercise was the last thing on Grams’ mind, but Gralow encouraged her again and again to join in the playful activities at Team Survivor.
3rd Act magazine | fall 2017
BY LISA STUEBING
Then one day, Grams walked by a mirror and thought, “This is not how I am going to spend the rest of my life.” The cancer and treatment had robbed her of her “I-can-do-anything” landscaper’s physique. She was 70 pounds heavier and her complexion was pale. What she saw did not jibe with her selfimage, so Grams immediately decided to step a mile-and-a-half outside of her comfort zone to enroll in a dance class at Team Survivor Northwest. Pumped by the fun, she was inspired to do even more. Grams surprised herself by climbing Mt. Adams, and she is now certified to lead MixxedFit group exercise classes for sister survivors. “I feel fortunate to be here. I exercise because I want to, not because I have to,” she says. “It is how I pay homage to my friends who did not survive.”
Left: Team Survivor climb team members summit Mt. Adams in Washington. From left to right: Deb Brooks, Linda Owen, Lynn Prunhuber, Dr. Julie Gralow, Maggie Brower, Paula Tomlinson, Vickie Grams, Ann Russell, Cheryl Stratemeyer, Pam Stoeffler (seated) Right: Vickie Grams takes a break during a trek to Wallace Falls State Park.
GETTING THE TEAM TOGETHER In 1995, shortly after completing her oncology fellowship, Gralow became concerned about the long-term health of her patients. Hearing colleagues advise patients to take it easy after treatment, she found research that there was no supporting evidence that rest is better than exercise for cancer survivors. Her patients had beaten cancer, but they were putting themselves at risk for heart disease and osteoporosis. Gralow soon found two kindred spirits to recruit cancer survivors to participate in the local Danskin Triathlon, which was an event engineered to raise funds for cancer research. Exercise trainer Lisa Talbot and renowned triathlete Sally Edwards were on their way to a race in Austin, Texas, when they realized that they were not doing anything
How to Find Help and Training • Your exercise program should be highly personalized. To find a medical exercise specialist or appropriate group exercise option, check with your treatment center’s health education department or social worker. They may refer you to a larger organization, such as Cancer Pathways, Cancer Lifeline, or Team Survivor Northwest. • If you’re hiring a personal trainer, ask which certification they hold. There are several solid specialty courses including those offered by ACSM, ACE, ISSA, NFPT, Healthy Steps (formerly the Lebed Method), and the Cancer Training Institute. • Anyone who works with you should take a complete health history including how your cancer was treated and the medications that you currently take. Some side effects may show up well after treatment has ended. • Fundraising walks often provide training for survivors. Walks are held year-round and one may be coming to a community near you. Search online for events including Relay for Life (American Cancer Society), Susan G. Komen events (including Race for the Cure), and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (Light the Night).
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Aging with Confidence
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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.
for actual survivors. They organized a survivors’ luncheon in Texas to discuss a radical new idea: Could survivors and people in treatment train for and participate in a triathlon? Back in Seattle, Gralow, who had already signed on as medical director for the local Danskin Triathlon, was all for it. Team Survivor Northwest had its start. The best part is, the program is compassionately designed for all women. “You don’t have to be an active person to join in,” says breast cancer survivor Brenda Frost. She had just been laid off from work when she received her cancer diagnosis. The double whammy laid her low. Then, she found Team Survivor Northwest in the back pages of her patient resources notebook. “I am not a ‘support group person,’” Frost says. “I chose the Run-Walk Half Marathon training program because it was about doing something.” The commitment to keep her promises to others was a motivator. “I knew I had to get up every day to meet people who were waiting for me,” she recalls. These new
friends helped Frost face the future. Walking four to six miles a day gave her a sense of control and a path toward getting healthy again. Now in her seventh year of remission, Frost just stepped down as board chair of Team Survivor Northwest. DO NOT WAIT FOR AN INVITATION Vickie Grams was fortunate that her doctor understood the importance of exercise in increasing cancer survival and quality of life. But Gralow’s willingness to discuss exercise with Grams is an unfortunate rarity. According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, the “get-your-toosh-off-the-sofa” conversation only happens in about 13 percent of office visits. Not every provider feels confident to prescribe exercise, perhaps because, as a 2015 Oregon State University study found, exercise science is not required learning in most medical schools in the United States. So we need to be prepared to ask questions and advocate for ourselves. See the sidebar for resources on how to get started.
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3rd Act magazine | fall 2017
TRAINING FOR YOUR FUTURE
Build Your Bones BY KYLE CIMINSKI
IF YOUâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;RE 50 OR OLDER, you have a high chance of breaking a bone. Ten million Americans already have full-blown osteoporosis, with brittle and fragile bones. But fortunately, exercise has been proven to prevent osteoporosis and benefit bone health, which means high- or low-impact aerobic and weight-bearing exercises are a smart addition to any fitness routine. High-impact exercises include activities such as dancing, step aerobics, hiking, jogging, or running. Imagine a runnerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s foot hitting the ground while running, and the impact moving from the foot to the ankle to the knee and hip. This transfer of energy causes bone stimulation, which in turn actually strengthens bones. Doctors recommend that people who can engage in high-impact activities do so because bone stimulation is an excellent way to maintain bone health. (If you are able to do high-impact activity, know your limits and be aware of unusual pain or discomfort that may indicate injury.) However, many people cannot participate in high-impact activities due to low bone density, bone or joint damage, or other reasons. Lowimpact exercises include a large range of activities that do not aggravate joints, such as using an elliptical machine or walking outside on a paved, smooth path. Low-impact exercises are accessible for most people, but are ideal for those who already have lower bone density. I recommend climbing stairs, or low-impact step aerobics classes that can be found at gyms or senior centers. If your doctor has told you to participate in low-impact exercises, be sure to not overuse your back or add stress to joints to avoid injury. The final branch of exercise to consider for bone health is muscular strength. These exercises include weight lifting, bodyweight exercises Aging with Confidence
(done without machines or special equipment), and functional training. These movements increase your ability to more effectively do either high- or low-impact cardiovascular exercises. Depending on your fitness level, I suggest using weight machines, cable machines, or low-weight free weights. If you are not ready for those, bodyweight exercises are excellent for both beginners and advanced individuals. I use the TRX system as an aid for bodyweight exercises with my clients to provide a challenging and effective workout. Good form is essential to prevent injury, so I suggest working with either a personal trainer or a group fitness class to ensure proper form and technique. If you are over the age of 50, consider getting a bone-density scan. With accurate knowledge of your current bone health, you can decide what form of exercise is appropriate for your body. Then make a commitment to engage in either high- or low-impact aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes three to five times per week. Additionally, plan for two to three muscular strength-focused exercise sessions a week. Always speak to your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine. Prioritizing building bone strength and maintaining good balance will help you avoid fractures and keep you moving strong well into old age.
Kyle Ciminski is a personal trainer at the Fidalgo Pool & Fitness Center in Anacortes. He holds over 30 professional certifications, and you can reach him at kyleciminskitraining@ gmail.com or at 360-969-1386. Learn more at trainwithkyle.com.
| 3rd Act magazine 41
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THE END OF LIFE – AND A GOOD DEATH Planning for the Inevitable Can Add Joy to the Journey BY PRISCILLA CHARLIE HINCKLEY
y mother, Alice, had a good life. She shared a birthday with Queen Elizabeth II, which she found interesting, and I thought the two of them might just keep going forever. Alice married for the second time at 50 and began traveling the world. She wore hats. Later, as a widow, she wrote poetry, joined a poker club, and posed nude for an artist friend. And when she was diagnosed with cancer, she made sure to have a good death. So how do we do that? How do we approach an event we know is inevitable, but we’d really rather not attend? Advances in medical treatment have made many of us feel that planning for the end of life, or
Aging with Confidence
even acknowledging that death might be imminent, means that we’re giving up. Our doctors may want us to focus on recovery instead of dying. The people we love may want us to “keep fighting,” on the chance that we could survive a while longer, even if treatment has become more of a burden than a benefit. Here’s the reality: Good information and thoughtful planning can help you stay in control of your life up until the end. Your loved ones will fare better emotionally after your death. Best of all, you are very likely to live longer, and enjoy yourself more, if you approach treatment and make choices based on what you really want. You can plan a good death. CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE
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3rd Act magazine | fall 2017
Trudy James helps people “live deeply and die well.” A longtime hospital chaplain, she spent decades comforting dying patients and their caregivers. In retirement, she began getting people together to talk about dying before it became a short-term reality. It’s generally easier to discuss death when it’s still more of a concept. “People carry around very fearful images of death. I try to replace those images with the naturalness of it and give them some control,” says Trudy. Being able to talk about wrapping up a life is an important part of doing it well and enjoying the time that’s left. Through her organization, Heartwork, Trudy and other trained facilitators lead groups in foursession workshops. It starts with stories, as people share their own experiences or thoughts about death, saying goodbye, and the legacy they want to leave. They learn Trim Sizeabout available resources, and 2.4they x 4.9 discuss the essential decisions that will have to be made at some point. By the end of the workshop, Trudy hopes participants will have completed an advance directive and talked to their families about their wishes. Essential decisions include: • Treatment choices, including possible discontinuation of treatment. • Choosing the person who will make health care decisions for you if you can’t make them yourself. • Hospice care, organ donation, death with dignity, dying at home, quality of life. • Funeral or memorial service wishes. In 1994, the Project on Death in America began a nine-year mission to “transform the culture
and experience of dying” through providing grants for research, developing model systems of care, and a Faculty Scholars Program to train palliative care specialists. Dr. Anthony Back, a PDIA grant recipient, is now co-director of UW Medicine’s Cambia Palliative Care Center of Excellence. “This is a specialty that cares for patients with serious illnesses throughout their treatment and end of life,” explains Back. He says it’s becoming the standard of care in many hospitals. There are misconceptions about palliative care. One is that it means giving up medical treatment. Another is that people don’t need it until close to the end of life. Instead, says Dr. Back, the point of palliative care is to help you live as well as possible for as long as you can. Providers of palliative care include doctors, nurses, social workers, and spiritual caregivers. Ideally, they’re part of a seriously ill patient’s medical team early on. They help patients and families understand the context of all the medical information they’re getting, so that they can make decisions that include consideration of their own values. “We’re helping patients figure out if a treatment is still worth it. Will it help me do the things that I still need to do in my life?” says Back. He adds that advanced cancer patients who receive palliative care may actually live longer. Hospice is an option for terminally ill people to receive care and support, usually at the patient’s home or the home of a loved one, although services are available in other settings. To qualify, recipients must have a lifethreatening illness with a prognosis
of six months or less to live. An RN case manager coordinates a team that offers services such as counseling for patient and family, bathing, chores, errands, medicine oversight, massage, or music therapy. Dana Brothers, outreach and communications manager at Hospice of the Northwest, says that, “Once someone is on hospice, it’s about comfort and meeting the goals of the patient.” Hospice can also provide equipment to make life easier at home, such as a hospital bed, oxygen, a bedside table or a commode. Sometimes it’s more personal. Hospice of the Northwest was caring for a woman who wanted to die at her cabin on Orcas Island, but it wasn’t possible. So her hospice team collected shells and flowers for her, reminding her of the beach. Patients who go on hospice often live longer than expected. They may leave and return. As Brothers says, death is the most important event that will occur to every single person, and we should plan for it so that we can live the way we want. I’ve heard it said that knowing your expiration date can be a gift, allowing time to complete your bucket list, mend fences, or quit your job and go to France. It may not be that way for everyone, but just knowing there are options available is a great comfort. Alice, my mom, took control of her life with help from her daughters. As often happens with pancreatic cancer, it wasn’t found early enough for lifesaving treatment. After a few chemotherapy sessions to reduce the tumor, she agreed with her doctor that additional chemo would
Aging with Confidence
not make a difference and would, in fact, make her life less pleasant. The next few months were busy. Alice finished writing a family history, watched Dancing with the Stars every week, and enjoyed visits with her many friends. She decided that 2009 was not a good year to die and announced that she would wait for 2010. After designing her cemetery stone and having it installed, she went to see it several times with anyone who wanted to go. She was quite proud of it. Hospice providers washed Alice’s hair, gave her sponge baths, changed her sheets, and massaged her legs. Her case manager kept an eye on her medications, ordered a hospital bed, and brought in oxygen. Alice was slipping away, but she was doing it on her own terms. On my last visit, we planned Mom’s memorial service together and made arrangements to donate her brain for research. I will always be grateful that she could talk with me about those things, and that she gave me a very special message before I went home to Seattle. She died in 2010, with my sister beside her. Alice had a good life, right up until the end. I miss her every day, but I have a painting of her that makes me smile. She’s wearing a hat and her elfin grin…and very little else. She did it her way. 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 lighthearted approach to serious topics.
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MY 3RD ACT
Of Goats and Gratitude
A Chance Encounter Leads to Global Teamwork BY JACK YORK
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ZACK MEJIAS
Jack York is a co-founder and president of It’s Never 2 Late, a company dedicated to helping older adults use the power of technology. Learn more at in2l. com, and see more stories and photos from Cameroon on the website’s blog.
WHEN YOU REACH A CERTAIN AGE, you have two choices when you’re asked how you wound up where you are in your life. You can either spout a well-honed story of charting your career step by step, every decision meticulously planned. Or you can tell the truth, which for most people is that a whole lot of random coincidences have put you in places that you never would have dreamed of had you written your own future. That’s what I was thinking last April, when around 3,000 Cameroonian villagers danced and chanted my mother Dorothy’s name as they sang praises to me. It was the celebration of a senior center, dedicated to my mother and funded through generous donations from nearly a hundred Americans. This surreal episode happened because a remarkable man in Cameroon decided to do something sustainable with a heartfelt donation of $500. My journey with Francis began in Perth, Australia, in 2015. We were both invited to speak at the Global Aging Network conference, and we wound up on the same panel. I am fiercely proud of the work done by our company It’s Never 2 Late, connecting older adults living in senior living communities to modern technology. But when I heard Francis’ story about how he has successfully stood up against policies that oppress women and the elderly in Cameroon, I felt a sense of awe and insignificance. We spoke briefly after his presentation and went our separate ways after no more than 15 minutes of conversation, but his spirit stayed with me.
3rd Act magazine | fall 2017
Clockwise from top left: Villagers sing praises and thank to Front Porch, a senior living organization that donated $11,000 to upgrade a village in Cameroon; Locals in the village of Mesa welcome me with open arms; Francis sings praises to his local villagers; We all surround the opening of the Dorothy York senior center; Francis greets New Orleans, and New Orleans greets Francis, on his inaugural trip to the U.S.
Back in the U.S., I sent Francis a brief email of thanks and had our company send a check for $500 to honor his work. There were certainly no strings attached; it was just a small gesture of kindness and gratitude for Francis’ work. But instead of the form thank-you letter I expected, Francis had a different response that has completely rocked my world (and will ultimately rock the world of thousands of Cameroonian people). Six weeks later, I received an innocuous email from Francis. To my amazement, and also my amusement, Francis had taken the $500 and established the Jack York Elderly Woman’s Sustainable Goat Rearing Project in Northwest Cameroon. He went to nine villages and delivered each a goat designed to help foster his mission of people taking care of themselves and for each other. Along with the narrative, Francis sent videos of people chanting thanks to Jack York, man of wisdom, for his generous donations to Cameroon! Are you kidding me? These videos www.3rdActMag.com
were an intersection of National Geographic meeting Saturday Night Live! Soon, I found myself wondering what this man and his organization would do if they were given more money, say $20,000 or $30,000. With that in mind, we invited Francis to the U.S. for a whirlwind fundraising trip combining thousands of miles of driving with thousands of miles of flying. In two weeks, we visited seven states and Washington, D.C. It was magical, not only seeing Francis’ exuberance on his first trip to America, but also seeing our country open its arms to welcome this gregarious man from 7,000 miles away. The trip raised more than $30,000, which led to the funding of the senior center named after Dorothy York—the first facility of its kind in Cameroon. This story has not ended. If $500 can turn to $30,000, what’s the next step of the journey? Why not keep thinking bigger? One painful reality I saw with Francis’ help is how a lack of school bathrooms in Cameroon causes thousands of girls to drop out before graduation. So Francis will be Aging with Confidence
back in the U.S. this fall, and we’re delighted to say we’ll be visiting the state of Washington. Our goal will be to raise funds to construct one bathroom that could honor the state of Washington. I will head back to Cameroon to help build these bathrooms in April 2018. So the message is simple: Whether you send the $500 check, or receive the $500 check, we are all change agents on this marvelous planet of ours. If you keep your eyes open, and look beyond your current situation, you might start the next revolution to make things better. And if you’re really lucky, you may even have a goat named after you.
Meet Francis In Shoreline! WHERE: Cristwood Park Activity Center, Shoreline WHEN: November 8, 2017 11:00 AM HOW: Event is FREE! Space is limited. To RSVP call 206-546-7565 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
| 3rd Act magazine 47
FUEL MEMORIES EXERCISE
Senior Community FO BY RICHARD Finds New Ways SEVEN to Help Residents Engage in Life
t’s lunchtime at Cristwood, a sprawling senior living community just north of Seattle, but one memory care resident named Midge has her mind on other things. She sits upright, squints, and gingerly waves her right hand between three 18-inch-tall sensors lined in front o f her. Midge, a lifelong teacher, is witty but frail. Her motion is tentative and gentle as if petting a skittish cat. Depending on where she edges her hand within the sensors, her movements produce the sounds of a strumming guitar, a slide whistle, and rattling maracas. She strains to hear, but a smile washes over her face when she realizes she is making music to accompany the old song, “Hail, Hail the Gang’s All Here,” as it
3rd Act magazine | fall 2017
IS EVEN MORE IMPORTANT blares from a computer console. “You’re doing that, Midge,” says Aloma Jackson, memory care activities coordinator at Cristwood. “Good job! Sounds great!” The achievement may strike some as a trifle, but technology-fueled moments like this are playing a growing role in longterm memory care facilities. The goal is to reach and touch residents and bridge the gap between them, especially those with dementia, and the world that often swirls about or speeds past them. The need to get creative is great. The World Health Organization says more than 47 million people live with dementia and nearly 10 million new cases arise each year. Dementia harms memory, motor skills, sensory abilities, and often visual perception. As it progresses, the condition also diminishes communication. And as isolation intensifies, so do agitation and confusion. In March, Cristwood began employing a computer system known as iN2L (It’s Never 2 Late). The center incorporates it in group and individual sessions to engage residents www.3rdActMag.com
in both its assisted and unassisted units. The system is mounted on wheels so it can go into individual rooms and help residents who may be too sick or shy to join the common areas. Oversized, easy-to-read icons on a touch screen lead users to a wide range of applications. Residents can explore foreign lands or reminisce about hometowns. They can sit in a virtual cockpit or use a wand to paint or doodle. They can compete in trivia games, sing songs, or Skype with family members. “We believed then, and we believe now, that older adults living in senior living communities, particularly people living with dementia, have the desire and the right to stay connected and engaged with the outside world,” says Jack York, president and cofounder of Colorado-based iN2L. “It’s a simple concept, but it has met a lot of resistance along the way,” York adds, noting that both staff and families sometimes dwell more on what people with disabilities cannot do rather than what they can do. York was working as vice president of a Southern California technology company in the late 1990s when he learned from a friend about the loneliness that pervaded a local assisted living community. Near the same time, he was moved by his dying mother who told him that he was meant to “do more than make money.” He donated computers to the facility and saw their value to residents. That planted the seed that led him to found iN2L, now 18 years old and with systems in about 2,500 communities, from rural nursing homes to high-end memory care communities, across the U.S. and Canada. The goal is to engage minds and spark social integration, which may in turn help reduce the use of psychotropic drugs, improve speech, incorporate occupational and physical therapy, destigmatize the experience of moving to a care facility, and help with staff efficiency and turnover. The effects and potential of iN2L and other systems are still being studied. While several studies have shown positive results, more Aging with Confidence
research is needed to determine the longterm benefits and best practices. York acknowledges that some facilities have balked at using the tool because it dramatically changes the way therapy programming is delivered. Still, the systems were used several million hours last year, he says. “The market is starting to demand engagement,” he adds. “Families are insisting their loved ones have access to technology.” Cristwood saw enough promise to jump aboard. The Shoreline facility raised enough money through donations to purchase four iN2L systems, and the community will also
The need to get creative is great. The World Health Organization says more than 47 million people live with dementia and nearly 10 million new cases arise each year.
test the application on iPads. The center also recently got two donated big screen televisions that can furnish programs to large groups. Staff reports that residents who otherwise are withdrawn and unresponsive have shown emotional and physical connections while using these programs. CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE
| 3rd Act magazine 49
The icons present options with labels like “Therapy,” “Lifelong Learning,” and “Travel” and options continue to be added. The evolving applications allow staff to tailor to a resident’s interests. “The market is Aloma Jackson, the Cristwood staff starting to demand member, recently engagement. used the system to Families are insisting search for California missions that a their loved ones resident had painted have access to long ago. Not only technology.” did the resident recall powerful memories by “touring” the missions on the system, but her daughter passed along an image of the actual paintings, spurring interest from other residents.
The iN2L is meant to spark human engagement. The Cristwood staff is still learning how to maximize the system’s potential, but the center’s administrator, Debra Hawkins, has ambitious plans including group activities, such as a cycling club, in which assisted living and independent residents use the system together. “We are seeing residents engage who otherwise did not,” she says. “And they in turn are not self-isolating as they have been in the past and are making friendships and relationships throughout the neighborhoods.” While engagement with others is an overarching goal, so is finding that one thing that can reach each single person.“I came in on a Sunday and one of the residents, said, ‘I’m bored!’ so I got her on Google Earth and we ended up in her hometown of New Orleans,” says Jackson. “We got onto her street. She talked about the corner store she used to go to. She was in tears by the end. She was so moved by the experience.” It was one moment with one resident, but it was success. Richard Seven has lived and worked as a journalist in Seattle for more than three decades. He spent most of that time as a feature writer and editor for The Seattle Times.
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3rd Act magazine | fall 2017
Building Value and Values Family Businesses Take Pride in Their Work
Village Concepts CEO and president Steve Brown with his son, company COO Stuart Brown. Photo by Jeff Caven
BY JULIE FANSELOW
Aging with Confidence
| 3rd Act magazine 51
something cool together” could be a good motto for any business, but it’s an especially apt one for family-run companies. And in an era when giant corporations seem to be taking over the world, family-owned businesses still make up twothirds of all enterprises around the globe, including in the United States. Every business seeks to provide a livelihood for its owners and employees. Family-run enterprises can also be an excellent vehicle for transferring values, both within the family ranks and beyond. “Doing things right seems to be more of a cultural obsession in these companies,” family business expert John A. Davis told The New York Times. Here are three family businesses that show the variety and vitality we have in our region.
Village Concepts It takes a village to raise a child, so the African proverb says. The same might be said for elders: Older people often thrive best when living in community. Village Concepts owns and manages 17 communities in the Puget Sound region, with “creating a village that feels like family” as the company motto. “That is what is happening inside of our buildings,” says chief operating officer Stuart Brown, who is the grandson of founder Bill Brown. “They create a village of people that are their extended family, whether it’s in our independent affordable senior apartment buildings where residents do that among themselves or our assisted living where the staff is an extension of that.” Bill Brown built El Dorado West in Burien in 1975 to offer an alternative to traditional nursing homes. “He saw he could build a place for seniors who were more independent and active,” says Stuart Brown. Bill’s sons, Steve (now president and CEO) and Rick, grew the company during the 1980s and 1990s. Village Concepts now employs 475 people and is updating its older properties to meet what people want now, often including a range of living choices in one community. “We’ve been in continuous operation since 1975, but we have a building that’s only three years old,” Stuart Brown says. In fact, Bill Brown was among the first residents of the remodeled El Dorado West. “It was a nice full circle for him that he was able to move into the place he originally created and it was a brand-new
3rd Act magazine | fall 2017
facility,” the grandson adds. It also gave the family personal insights about what it’s like to have a loved one move into senior housing. Stuart Brown shows a photo of himself and his uncle, dad, and grandfather sitting at a restaurant, having lunch —and says that’s how he learned a lot about business, simply through the generations working together. “We always had a very good relationship,” he says. Steve Brown adds, “One of the concerns of bringing a son on board to work in your business is ‘will he succeed?’ It was always upfront that if you’re not doing the job, you’re going to have to bow out and do something else. But Stuart has more than done the job and exceeded in our expectations of him. I don’t think we’ve had any major arguments. We were always able to work out our ideas and compromise.” “We wouldn’t be a very good reality TV show,” adds Stuart. “There’s not a lot of drama.”
Continental Mills You may not know the name Continental Mills, but there’s a good chance its products are in your pantry right now. The company got its start helping a Seattle women’s bridge club market a pie crust mix, and it remained a small enterprise for several decades. “We’re talking about in-the-garage small,” says John Heily, current CEO and chair, who recently marked 50 years with the company. It had fewer than 20 employees when he took over from his dad. Today, Krusteaz baking mixes are part of a growing Continental Mills portfolio that includes Alpine spiced cider and licensed brands Ghirardelli and Red Lobster. The company now employs more than 850, with its corporate offices and warehouse in Tukwila and a manufacturing plant in Kent, plus additional plants in Illinois, Kansas, and Tennessee. John’s son, Andy, now serves as president (with several other family members on the board of directors). Both men have done everything in the company from laboring on a factory line to setting policy. Although Andy thought he might work elsewhere following college and graduate school, “after spending some time here, I became consumed with it. We have amazing people and we have really cool brands and assets we can leverage.” He’s also assumed leadership at a time of rapid and exciting change in the food industry. “We’re going where the marketplace is going and trying to get out in front
of it as much as possible,” he says. “It’s never been this dynamic.” For instance, Continental Mills has added new brands in what it calls “better-for-you-snacking,” including Wild Roots and Buck Wild. “The greatest pride I have in having a legacy and having my son follow me is that the passion he has is the same passion I have,” says John. “It’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve experienced in my life, and I believe he will take the business to places that I have just dreamed about.”
Everest Kitchen For many people, a restaurant is the classic family business.
Mohan Gurung draws on both his family’s heritage and current family ties as he serves up the savory tastes of Nepal, India, and Tibet at Everest Kitchen, his restaurant in the Lake Forest Park Town Center. Gurung’s father was a healer and herbalist in Nepal who often used food to help people attain their best health. Gurung himself worked in the healthcare field as a young man in Nepal and after immigrating to the United States in 1993, juggling several jobs as a medical assistant to get his two now-grown children through college. Once he’d achieved that goal, he wanted to help people stay healthy, but he didn’t have the credentials to advance in American-style medicine. Instead, drawing
Aging with Confidence
on both his father’s lessons and the wisdom of the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates (“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”), Gurung opened a restaurant. The Everest Kitchen’s tag line is “Eat well, feel well, live well.” Adds Gurung, “This is the most important part of the health field.” Gurung’s son-in-law, Mike (whose last name is also Gurung), is his partner in the venture. Mohan manages the daily operations and Mike focuses on marketing. Near the cash register is a showcase of jewelry made by Smriti Gurung (Mohan’s daughter and Mike’s wife), who mainly works as a nurse but is also active in American-Nepalese programs that assist children in rural Nepal. A portion of the proceeds from jewelry sales—as well as that of photos by Cora Edmonds on display—benefit relief efforts in Nepal. Food and Clockwise from the top: community are Village Concepts founder Bill closely tied at Everest Brown; Mike and Mohan Gurung of Everest Kitchen; Brown Kitchen. Gurung says children with High Point Village he enjoys providing residents; Continental Mills President Andy Heily wholesome food to with father, John Heily, CEO his neighborhood and and chair. creating jobs, too. Seven people work in the restaurant, and Gurung would like to forge a culinary training partnership with a local high school or community college. Meanwhile, Gurung is happy he and his family have been able to promote healthy living without having an M.D. or a Ph.D. by his name. “If you’re healthy, you can do anything,” he adds. Julie Fanselow writes about the arts, business, and travel and is the copy editor for 3rd Act Magazine.
| 3rd Act magazine 53
Becomes a Gift BY SALLY FOX
• Should you stop gifting the 28-year-old niece with a good job who never bothers to say thankyou? • If your grandson asks for a violent video game, do you have to choose that? • Is it OK to give something used? • How should you decide between all the worthy nonprofits begging for your assistance?
THE HOLIDAY SEASON IS ON THE HORIZON—a time of giving and receiving gifts. What better delight than seeing a friend’s eyes light up as she appreciates your thoughtfulness, or hearing a grandson squeal with glee as he examines a new toy? Research suggests that giving can improve your health, increase your longevity, and be gratifying. Yet, we all know that gift giving can also be stressful, particularly during the holidays. In wanting to make sure we give enough, remember everyone, and show our care, we often try to do more than we can. Giving can bring up upsetting memories, failed expectations, and endless questions, such as:
• Should you continue gifting your children as you did before your income was reduced, even knowing that their incomes are now much higher than yours?
3rd Act magazine | fall 2017
Before facing the holiday gift-giving extravaganza, how about a little self-care? Breathe, relax, and try to notice and let go of any exorbitantly high expectations. As the stewardesses tell you onboard every flight, put on your oxygen mask before helping others! Who wants to receive from a totally stressed-out you? Next, take a moment to consider: Are you giving for wrong reasons? Are there traditions you can end to make gift-giving better for you and your loved ones? Don’t give to compensate for something from the past or because you feel guilty. That is what
JazzAlley_1/3rdpg_v4.qxp_Layout 1 12/5/16 12:40 PM
apologies are for. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s better to tell your grown kids, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m sorry I wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t there for you in the way you wantedâ&#x20AC;? than to try to win them over with money or gifts. Remember: Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s your love theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re still after. Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t try to match othersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; giving. Get off the perpetual treadmill of keeping up appearances. If your income has declined, maybe itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s time to have that heart-to-heart with your family or colleagues. You might say: â&#x20AC;&#x153;I wish I could give like I have in the past, and I still want you to know how much I care!â&#x20AC;? (This is a good conversation to have before the holidays.) Giving mindfully starts with considering how someone else likes to receive. Author Gary Chapman, in The Five Love Languages, describes the varied ways to express and experience love: gift giving (presents), quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch. For example, I like receiving gifts, but I love giving affirmations. My husband loves receiving quality time with me, but he prefers giving acts of service. (I learned this when my requests for â&#x20AC;&#x153;a romantic giftâ&#x20AC;? led him to remodel the bathroom!) If you know your friendâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s preferences, you can plan gifts accordingly, but even if you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t, these languages suggest great gift options. For example: Presents. Many of us have too much stuff and donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t need big gifts. Have a conversation with family and friends to explore new ways to share gifts. Miss Manners may not approve of â&#x20AC;&#x153;re-giftingâ&#x20AC;? something youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been given before, but if your friends decide in advance that itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s OK, thoughtful re-gifting is a great idea. (Just no white elephants, please!) How about a special book or musical instrument? One secret for making a used gift more valuable:
Aging with Confidence
Tell the story that comes with it. And if you need to downsize your giving, add some bling to your gifts by wrapping them artistically and adding special notes. Quality time. Why not give a trip that you and your granddaughter can take together? Or offer your husband an exciting shared experience? One favorite gift to my friends is an invite to coffee or a meal, complete with a note about how much I value our friendship. Words of affirmation. Nothing moves me like a heartfelt note of appreciation. I keep them in a special file to read on my bad-hair days. A simple present becomes exquisite when you include a note of genuine acknowledgement. I love composing notes and poems for friends. While I may not be a famous poet, the poems I write for my friends receive rave reviews. Acts of service. A friend gave me a great birthday present: two hours of help working in the garden together. Pulling weeds gave us the perfect chance to catch up! Touch. Who doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t like a good massage, either given by a partner or professional? And for the elderly, like my mother in her last stage of life, touch is one gift that still brings a smile. Whatever you choose to give, give with an open heart. People want to feel connected to youâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and that connection is a gift to your health, longevity, and happiness as well! Sally Fox is a coach, speaker, podcaster, and owner of Engaging Presence, a firm that helps individuals and organizations develop and share their best brand stories. She is currently working on a book about finding your creative work in the third act of life. Find her blog at engagingpresence.com and listen to her podcasts at 3rdActMagazine.com.
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| 3rd Act magazine 55
PHOTO BY SEBASTIAN SCANDIUZZI, COURTESY OF ACT THEATRE
Take a Bow “Angels” Support Local Theatre with Time, Money and Love
BY MISHA BERSON
here’s no business like show business. But most nonprofit performing arts groups in the Puget Sound region’s dynamic cultural landscape need the support of avid patrons like Emily Davis, Bill Kuhn, and Pat Daniels to go on with the show. This Seattle trio and other theatre-lovers aren’t content to just sit in the audience, or write the occasional donation check. They’re loyal boosters and volunteers. What’s in it for them, other than gratitude, good seats and opening night receptions? Entrance into the fascinating process of creating theatre—which, according to Kuhn, Daniels, and Davis, is more than worth the price of admission. When they moved to Seattle in the 1970s, New York transplants Bill Kuhn and his wife, Pat Daniels, were already stage fans. But they had no idea there was topquality theatre so far from the bright lights of Broadway. “It took us a while to see what a deep pool of talent Seattle had,” recalls Kuhn, a computer scientist. Over the
3rd Act magazine | fall 2017
years he and Daniels began attending, subscribing to, and donating to numerous local theaters, including the city’s two Tony Award-honored playhouses, Seattle Repertory Theatre and Intiman Theatre. “In the past the Rep would do a lot of classics, and we’d read the plays by Shakespeare or Moliere aloud to each other before we went to see them,” remembers Daniels, an engineering professor who has taught at University of Washington and Seattle University. But their interest and involvement intensified in the 1990s, after they became regular visitors to ACT Theatre, a buzzing downtown theatrical multi-plex ensconced in the landmark Eagles Building. “We discovered for a modest annual donation we’d get invited to technical rehearsals, play readings, and pre-show events,” says Kuhn. “We’d get to meet the actors and technicians, and find out more about the process of putting on a production. It was fascinating.” www.3rdActMag.com
“Bill and Pat know what it takes to bring great theatre to life,” says Becky Witmer, ACT’s appreciative managing director. “People who make supporting and attending live theatre part of their lifestyle help to keep us going strong.” Witmer notes that while much of ACT’s income comes from ticket sales, contributed revenue is essential. And more than half of that comes from individuals, in small and larger contributions. Kuhn, now retired, also learned that his own talents and expertise from years in the computer industry could be valuable to ACT. Seven years ago he joined the board of directors and took on the challenging task of redesigning, building, and writing a website for ACT’s 50th anniversary. “It was a huge project,” he explains. “We created a comprehensive site (acttheatrehistory.org) that lists every play they’ve done and all the actor and other credits. Pat proofread it.” Daniels has also enjoyed the audience post-show talkbacks with artistic director John Langs and others, and special invitations to readings of new plays. She remembers award-winning author Steven Dietz “just grilling us, after a reading of his play Bloomsday. He didn’t want praise, he wanted to hear what we didn’t like, so he could make a good script even better.” Other memorable occasions: attending with other supporters the Broadway opening of First Date, a musical ACT developed in Seattle. And mingling with members of local Asian communities, leading up to an ACT adaptation of the ancient Hindu epic, The Ramayana. “Many people think it takes a lot of money to get the fringe benefits,” notes Daniels. “But for a donation of as little as $100, you can get more involved.” “We’re not the richer donors,” Kuhn adds with a chuckle. “But it’s part of my contribution to give what I can in time and expertise to make that up.” A retired Seattle lawyer, Emily Davis is also an inveterate theatre-goer. Though she loves to travel, her busy schedule when she’s home includes frequent trips to a variety of local shows both on large stages and in tiny “fringe” theaters. (“At one time I think I had six season theatre subscriptions,” she says.) In the early 1990s, Davis fell in love with Book-It Repertory Theatre, an acclaimed troupe that dramatizes
GAMES FOR YOUR BRAIN ANSWERS
(Puzzles on page 64)
Aging with Confidence
Up and Down 1. Touch (touch up; touchdown) 2. Shut (shut up; shut down) 3. Break (break up; breakdown)
4. Back (back up; back down) 5. Crack (crack up; crack down) 6. Cut (cutup; cut down) 7. Let (let up; let down)
works of literature. She has been devoted to the company ever since, as they’ve developed a passionate following for their adaptations of works by the likes of Jane Austen, Edith Wharton, Mark Twain, and current Northwest novelists. “When I first got involved the artistic directors (Jane Jones and Myra Platt) were putting on these wonderful works on a nothing budget,” says Davis. “They had a real skinny staff, nobody was making any money, so I’d help out in the office sometimes.” Like Bill Kuhn, Davis followed up her interest by becoming an active board member. She, too, received a backstage crash course. “I loved the ability to see what goes behind the scenes, how they make the art,” she recalls. “And with my law background I loved learning about the business end of theatre—dealing with union contracts, getting the rights to books they dramatized.” As the company has grown and prospered, a highlight for Davis is going to the “first read” for shows like Book-It’s recent version of Maya Angelou’s famed memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. “The people designing the costumes, the lighting, the sound, the sets introduce themselves, and talk about their ideas. They show their sketches and design models,” Davis says. “And the actors read through the script together for the first time. It’s so interesting to me, and really gives me an appreciation of how it all comes together in performance.” Davis has now stepped up to become a bona fide Book-It “angel.” Each year for the past two years, she has donated $5,000 as the co-producer of a Book-It show: The Brothers K in 2016, and Welcome to Braggsville in 2017. But, she stresses, “Some other Book-It friends will give $100 or $50, whatever they can spare. In the theatre every penny is meaningful.” She says she’d especially encourage seniors “to get involved even if they feel they don’t want to contribute or serve on a board level. It’s so satisfying, and you learn so much.” 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).
8. Shake (shake up; shake down) 9. Wind (windup; wind down)
Bugs 1. Mosquito 2. Locusts 3. Termites 4. Monarch Butterfly 5. Deer Tick 6. Flea
All A’s 1. Aloha 2. Acrophobia 3. Aroma 4. Alaska 5. Anemia 6. Aurora
7. Austria 8. Amiga 9. Ammonia 10. Amnesia 11. Abracadabra 12. Alpaca
3rd Act magazine
Chill in Europe for Warm Winter Memories BY RICK STEVES
EVERY SUMMER, EUROPE GREETS A STAMPEDE OF SIGHTSEERS. Instead of jumping into the peak-season pig pile, consider planning a trip for the off-season—generally that means November through March. Here are some things to know when planning a winter trip:
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.
It’s cheaper: Off-season airfares are often hundreds of dollars cheaper. And with fewer crowds in Europe, you’ll find you can sleep for less, too: Many higher-end hotels drop their prices, and budget hotels have plenty of vacancies. And while many B&Bs and other budget accommodations may be closed, those still open are almost empty and, therefore, more comfortable. The opposite can be true of big-city business centers (especially in Berlin and the Scandinavian capitals), which are busiest with corporate travelers and most expensive off-season. You’ll encounter fewer crowds: Off-season adventurers loiter all alone through Leonardo da Vinci’s last home in France, ponder in Rome’s Forum undisturbed, kick up sand on lonely Adriatic beaches, and chat with laid-back guards by log fires in a Loire château. In wintertime Venice, you can be all alone atop St. Mark’s bell tower, watching the clouds of your breath roll over the Byzantine domes of the church to a horizon of cut-glass Alps. Below, on St. Mark’s Square, pigeons fidget and wonder, “Where are the tourists?” Off-season adventurers enjoy stepright-up service at shops and tourist offices, and experience a more European Europe.
3rd Act magazine | fall 2017
Some places are just better off-season. Although many popular tourist-oriented parks, shows, and tours will be closed, off-season is in-season for high culture: In Vienna, for example, the Boys’ Choir, opera, and Lipizzaner stallions are in all their crowd-pleasing glory. London’s theater season is in high gear; music lovers can enjoy winter concerts at the grand red-velvet-draped Royal Albert Hall. In parts of the Mediterranean, it’s so darn hot in the summer that if you can just bundle up and go off season, you’ll have a much more comfortable time. Prepare for the weather: Make sure to consider weather conditions when you make travel plans. The weather can be miserable—cold, windy, and drizzly—and then turn worse. Europe and North America share the same latitudes and a similar climate, but you can’t go by latitude alone. Madrid and New York City should have similar weather, but Madrid is also 2,000 feet above sea level. Inland areas have colder winters, so Prague can get as chilly as Minneapolis.
But don’t write off a cold destination just because it’s winter. I spoke to a traveler who swapped the sunny Caribbean for a too-goodto-pass-up deal to Iceland in the dead of winter—with just four hours of daylight—and the breathtaking Northern lights viewed from her glacier hike made her glad she did. As long as you dress appropriately, you can have a fine time. Remember the smart traveler’s mantra: There’s no bad weather...just inappropriate clothing. Pack for the cold and wet—layers of clothing, rainproof parka, gloves, wool hat, long johns, waterproof shoes, and an umbrella. Bundle up. Europe’s wonderful city walking tours go regardless of the temperature. Cold weather is colder when you’re outdoors trying to enjoy yourself all day long, and cheap hotels are not always adequately heated in the off-season. But just as summer can be wet and gray, winter can be crisp and blue, and even into mid-November, hillsides blaze with colorful leaves.
Beware of shorter hours: Because much of Europe is at high latitudes, the winter days are short. It’s dark by 5 p.m. Make a point of getting your day started early so you have a full stretch of daylight to have your fun. Some sights close down entirely, and most operate on shorter hours, with darkness often determining the closing time. Winter sightseeing is fine in big cities, which bustle year-round, but it’s more frustrating in small tourist towns, which can be boringly quiet, with many sights and restaurants closed down. In December, many beach resorts shut up as tight as canned hams. While Europe’s wonderful outdoor evening ambience survives all year in the south, wintertime streets are empty in the north after dark. English-language tours, common in the summer, are rare off-season, when most visitors are
Aging with Confidence
natives. Tourist information offices normally stay open year-round, but have shorter hours in the winter. Opening times are less predictable, so call ahead to double-check hours and confirm your plans. With a well-planned itinerary and preparation for weather conditions, a winter trip to Europe can be easier and more relaxed than one during the hectic summer school break. In fact, some of my warmest European memories have been in the chilly off-season.
Top: A winter sunrise in Amsterdam. Left: Linger over a café au lait by a toasty outdoor heater and take in a nearly touristfree Paris. (photo: Laura VanDeventer) Above: London’s many attractions — such as its famous Harrods department store — make it a great winter destination for sightseeing and shopping. (photo: Lauren Mills)
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by Dori Gillam
I stopped reading erotic stories about 20 years ago, when I thought the only sources were magazines written by men, for men. So when I was asked to write an article on Dirty Old Women, an anthology of erotic prose and poetry written by “women of experience,” I asked our editor, “Why me?” Now, after reading modern erotica written by older women, I am enlightened. Since sex seems wild and out of control, society often can’t reconcile the persona of a sexually mature woman, enjoying many forms of sexual expression, with the nurturing, measured, grandmotherly type. It’s time we were able to hold both.
3rd Act magazine | fall 2017
What is erotica? It is not merely a more literary-sounding word for “porn.” Erotica can be bawdy, raunchy, or smutty. It can be softly hinting, delicious, or delirious. Song lyrics can be erotic poetry. Ever listen to Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get it On to set the mood? Or Maria Muldaur’s teasing voice as she sings in Midnight at the Oasis, “You won’t need no camel, oh no, when I take you for a ride”? A recurring news story recounts how older adults have discovered sexting. That’s a form of erotica. The Netflix series, Grace and Frankie, stars Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda as women who learn to own their sexuality by designing a vibrator specifically for arthritic older women. Erotica can be a spicy backdrop to real life, or even nostalgic, because you don’t forget how to engage in sex—it’s like roller skating. (As Melanie sang back in the 1970s, “I’ve got a brand new pair of roller skates, you’ve got a brand new key.”) Erotica can remind us of some wild times we used to have, or would still like to have, or it might bring alive a safely daring side to our sex life. Our culture still asserts that women lose their sex drive after menopause. Although estrogen production ebbs or halts, it’s believed that testosterone, the libido-stoking hormone present in women as well as men, may not—and erotica can stoke those flames. The new erotica pushes back on a culture that says women “dry up” after age 50. (There are products for that.) It empowers women to break free from shame, social convention, and their own inner critics to write openly about desire. It can show younger women new role models and how we celebrate our sexuality as we age. Lynx Canon, the editor of Dirty Old Women, curates regular readings at the Octopus Literary Salon in Oakland, CA. Women read their erotic poetry and stories to standingroom-only groups of mostly women over 50, although men and younger adults come, too. She says, “I hope that when we stand up there with our wrinkles, gray hair, and unabashed desire, we reassure young women that it’s not over at 30, 50, or even 90.” Mature erotica gives older women a voice. Sensuality and sexuality are exquisite as we age and by writing about it, we show women and men how to use fantasy and poetry
to communicate. Erotica for women is more than “Tab A goes in to Slot B” or fingers running along perfect skin and toned muscles. It can be about the way a lover makes us feel: sexy, confident, beautiful, passionate. Like creativity, sex can transcend age. Donna George Story, a contributing writer to Dirty Old Women, believes “we need more writers to acknowledge that the sexual urge and the erotic imagination are as worthy of a complex literary treatment as anger, jealousy, ambition, or love in its PG-rated form.” A complex treatment is needed because women’s sexuality is complex. As Billy Crystal said, “Women need a reason to have sex; men just need a place.” Another fabulous thing about women writing erotica is that men can read it, too, and learn more about what women want. People magazine supposedly asserted, “If a man reads erotica written by women, especially older women, he will learn things he couldn’t get out of a decade of Playboy or Penthouse.” By reading more erotica and talking with nearly two dozen people, I learned some new things. I knew the terms for older people in May/December relationships: daddies, sugar daddies, and cougars; but I never knew that the term for younger people who seek out older adults is Geri-Jumpers (Geri for Geriatric). I didn’t know that romance novels, which offer widely ranging types of erotica, make up 34 percent of the U.S. fiction market. I didn’t know there was such a buffet of erotica written by women. Erotica gives us terminology to use, even if we aren’t comfortable speaking out loud. And language is important to women. I once had a partner who yelled, “Go-Go-Go-GoGo!” at a critical moment. I didn’t know what to say then, but after reading more erotica, I have a few phrases to offer the next lover that might excite me more than encouraging me to slide into home plate. So if you’ve given up on erotica like I had, explore the available buffet. As Rosalind Russell said in Auntie Mame, “Life’s a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!” I now have more reading material for late nights under the covers with a flashlight. I can read what I want, when I want. Wait…is that a flashlight or are you just happy to see me?
sex seems wild and out of control, society often can’t reconcile the persona of a sexually mature woman, enjoying many forms of sexual expression, with the nurturing, measured, grandmotherly type.
Aging with Confidence
| 3rd Act magazine 61
BOOKS REVIEWED BY REBECCA CRICHTON
ur families influence and shape our lives, providing foundations for how we see ourselves and the world around us throughout our lives. Two memoirs by Seattle writers (both of them contributors to 3rd Act Magazine) explore the relationship between mothers and daughters, approaching aging through different perspectives. The Shelf Life of Ashes by Hollis Giammatteo
Her Beautiful Brain by Ann Hedreen In Her Beautiful Brain, Ann Hedreen reflects on the experience of motherhood, being a daughter of a woman with early onset Alzheimer’s, and her own self-discovery as a parent, partner, and writer. Hedreen tracks her mother’s remarkable life, from growing up in Butte, Montana, the daughter of a copper miner, to marrying twice, raising six kids on her own, receiving her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and finally becoming a schoolteacher to support her family. Hedreen and her family notice but don’t recognize the early signs of Alzheimer’s that appear in her mother’s late 50s. Her descent into dementia affects everybody in the family as they try to support and understand what is happening to their mother. Hedreen’s writing is poignant and funny, honest and engaging. She is willing to be both vulnerable and brave as she discovers more about the illness that ravages her mother and affects more than five million American families—a number that is expected to double or even triple by mid-century. Her Beautiful Brain serves as an inspiration for others whose family members confront the challenges and confusion of dealing with dementia.
3rd Act magazine | fall 2017
When Hollis Giammatteo turned 50, she decided she needed to know more about what aging was really like, hoping to create “The Map of Aging Well” by being with older people, observing them, learning from them, and applying that learning to her own life. “My intentions for working with the elderly had seemed twofold—to understand something about aging and by extension to prepare myself for it and to seek work that would inspire me to practice lovingkindness.” A longtime Buddhist practitioner, she opens the book with a quote from Pema Chodron, ending with the line: “Go to the places that scare you.” The Shelf Life of Ashes combines writing from two phases in Giammatteo’s life: the original chapters, written when she was 50, and her later commentary on those pages. Giammatteo applies a sharp wit and bracing honesty to her subjects and especially herself. Her tone is often sardonic. She isn’t afraid of admitting her distress and judgment when describing the people who became her wards. Her willingness to reveal her own biases and what she deems her failures span the spectrum from criticism to compassion. She describes the array of challenging characters with acute observations, laced with humor and a tinge of amazement. Helen, diagnosed with Parkinson’s, who spent her time sitting in front of her “memory lamp”—Post-it notes affixed to the lamp shade— certain she was being ruined by a cluster of Bulgarian housekeepers, handymen, and others. Alice, “eightytwo, displaced and bitter, Alice kept herself alive by complaining.” John, a retired professor of classics, losing his short-term memory. Her job was to encourage him to write and take him shopping. “He loves Costco,” she was told. Giammatteo’s writing rewards readers with a combination of sharp observation and lyrical descriptions of her inner thoughts and aspirations. Her final chapters about her mother feel both wrenching and complete. www.3rdActMag.com
Aging Like a Fine Wine or Fermenting Like a Stout Beer? BY DAN SCHMIEDING
We’ve all heard the adage, “Like a fine wine, you’re getting better with age.” It’s supposed to be a compliment, but the simile doesn’t hold up scientifically. Not all wine ages well. Indeed, most white wines hate aging and reds can tolerate only a limited amount before calling it quits. If we truly compare our aging with that of wine, we run the risk of staleness, sourness, and causing those sampling us to eject us into the tasting spittoon of life. Besides, the whole aged wine is better notion probably started as a marketing campaign long ago. It’s time to relegate this analogy to the recycling bin. Truth be told, I’m not a big wine drinker anyway. I prefer beer. I prefer brewing my own beer and generously sampling the beers brewed by friends, and therein dwells a truer comparison with the process of aging. It’s not age that makes a great beverage, it’s fermentation. What is wine without fermentation but old grape juice? What is beer without fermentation but strange tasting barley and hop tea? Aging alone does very little, but fermentation changes the entire character of a mundane, sugary liquid into a refreshing beverage with a kick. So, like a well-crafted beer, we should focus not on aging gracefully but rather fermenting with intention! The fermentation process is the chemistry between yeast and a raw mix of ingredients that creates an exhilarating, bacteria-free refreshment. So how do we become “psychologically” exhilarating and “emotionally” bacteria-free people as the result of a similar process? I’m talking about a metaphorical fermentation of the mind, not what Aging with Confidence
might happen in the gastrointestinal tract, often leading to an empty social calendar. Stay with me. This is where it might get a little weird. To ferment like an interesting and well-brewed beverage, we must inject new ideas into our mental soup to generate intoxicating possibilities. The “yeast” of mental fermentation is the idea. A person who is fermenting gracefully is a person who considers new approaches to old situations instead of resting on familiar and routine patterns. But ideas have to be intentionally generated—most idea creation requires effort. The brain of a longlived person is full of raw ingredients. There are good memories, bad memories, failures, successes, mistakes, lucky breaks, relationships, facts, fantasies, stories, recipes, bad jokes, and all manner of collected experiences. It’s a wonderful mess up there. Enter the yeasty idea, searching through the stacks of stored memories and experience looking for something to bundle, integrate, harmonize, and interface into the outside world—mental fermentation. One yeasty idea for starters is investing in about $400 of beer-making equipment. The process is relatively simple. There are groups you can join, techniques to share, samples to taste and unlimited experiences in fermentation . . . both liquid and mental. Dan Schmieding is an older fellow who shifted gears midlife from advertising and marketing to cartooning and writing humor with his book The Art of Rejection: Work hard, work smart, give of yourself, do what is right and you will come out ahead in the end. These and other myths are explored by a highly-rejected cartoonist. Available on Amazon.com
| 3rd Act magazine 63
GAMES for your brain Exercise your brain and have some fun with these puzzles designed to stimulate different cognitive functions.
Up and Down (easy)
Add the word “up” to a word or phrase and it has one meaning. Add “down” to the same word or phrase and the meaning is entirely different. 1. With “up” it means to make a small improvement. With “down” it’s a way to score points in football. 2. With “up” it means to stop talking. With “down” it means to close a factory, or turn off a computer. 3. With “up” it means to end a relationship. With “down” it’s the sudden collapse of a person’s mental health. 4. With “up” it means to drive a short distance in reverse. With “down” it means to give up in an argument.
6. With “up” it’s a person who likes to tell jokes or play pranks. With “down” it means to insult or belittle a person. 7. With “up” it means to slow down or stop, as with rain. With“down” it means to disappoint or fail to keep a promise. 8. With “up” it means to make radical changes in an organization or routine. With “down” it means to extort or cheat money from someone.
5. With “up” it means to burst into unrestrained laughter. 9. With “up” it’s what a pitcher does before throwing the With “down” it means to take severe measures to limit ball. With “down” it means to slowly come to an end. crime or bad behavior.
All A’s (harder) All the answers in this word definition game begin and end with the letter A. 1. Hello, in Honolulu______________________________
Hitler, and Mozart._____________________________
2. Fear of heights________________________________
8. A female friend, in Spanish.______________________
3. Fragrant odor._________________________________
9. The key ingredient in smelling salts._______________
4. Where you would find Wasilla and Denali.__________
10. A type of memory loss often used as a plot line in soap operas.__________________________________
5. Condition caused by a red blood cell or hemoglobin deficiency.____________________________________
11. This “magical” word has a total of five A’s.__________
6. Celestial light show that is fairly common at high latitudes._____________________________________
12. Related to a camel and smaller than a llama, this Peruvian animal’s hair is made into a very soft, luxurious wool fiber.____________________________
7. Home country of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Adolf
Bugs (hardest) This quiz tests your knowledge of germs, insects, and sundry creepy crawlies. 1. This insect has killed more people than all wars ever fought, through the spread of diseases like yellow fever and malaria._______________________________
4. Known for its beauty, this is the only insect able to fly as far as 2,500 miles to its winter home in Mexico.
2. One of the plagues of Egypt in the Bible was a swarm of these insects, which ate all the crops.____________
5. Thousands of people are infected yearly with Lyme Disease thanks to this tiny bug.___________________
3. These insects cause more damage to American homes than tornadoes and hurricanes combined.
6. The bubonic plague, or Black Death, was spread by this bug, which carried it from rats to humans.
ANSWERS ON PAGE 57 Reprinted with permission from Nancy Linde, author of the best-selling book 399 Puzzles, Games, and Trivia Challenges Specially
Designed to Keep Your Brain Young and her newest book, 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 2017
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