3rd Act Magazine – Fall 2020

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We’re In This Together A Once-in-Hundred-Year Pandemic Challenges and Changes Us


Social Justice with Social Distancing


A Tough Job Just Got Harder


Coping with Unwelcome Change

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MESSAGE from the publisher

Best Laid Plans I typically start planning the editorial focus for each issue of 3rd Act months—if not a year—ahead of publishing. Staying editorially nimble is important, yet I can normally look at the calendar, anticipate known events like the upcoming nat iona l election, think about topics and issues that are important and of interest to our readers, and come up with a comprehensive list of topics we want to write about. But nothing is normal. Life, and everything we’ve grown to expect, is turned on its head. There are so many momentous, life-changing events happening all at once right now: a once-in-100-year pandemic, a nationwide social justice movement, an economic meltdown, and a presidential election. And, as I write this, all but the election has arisen in just the past six months! In her story, Petting Birds (page 8), Linda Henry writes, “The only certainty we have

today is uncertainty. The disruption to our daily lives has been overwhelming, no matter how good our coping skills.” For tunately, Charles Johnson reminds us in his new book, Grand (reviewed on page 62), that, “Life is not personal, permanent, or perfect.” We don’t have control of a lot right now, but we can control how we respond, improvise, and adjust to the changing circumstances we are facing. We can, and must, cultivate resilience. In this issue we will give you tools to help build your resilience, encouragement to do some internal exploration—work I am certainly doing, as you’ll see in my story, Blinded by the White (page 42)—and inspiration on how to live a new, reordered, best life. I am especially proud of the thoughtful, passionate voices in this issue of 3rd Act. Our writers and contributors have tackled topics such as caregiving, engagement, health, activism, and even politics with focus, humor, and humility. We are living through an unprecedented time and given COVID-19’s impact on all our lives, it’s important to remember that we are all in this together. At a time when many of us may be feeling powerless it’s also important to acknowledge that there is power in numbers. There are things we can do. One of them is to wear a mask. Another is to exercise your power at the poll and vote. Stay well,

“Life, and everything we’ve grown to expect, is turned on its head.”

David and Victoria Marshall


3rd Act magazine | fall 2020

OU R VI SI ON Now more than ever, older adults are viewing their retirement as a “Third Act” in their lives: a time for re-invention, connection, and engagement. 3rd Act Magazine is a bold, fresh, lifestyle magazine for older adults in the Puget Sound. Our stories and articles challenge the worn-out perceptions of aging and offer a dynamic new vision: Let’s celebrate and embrace this stage of life, and age together with confidence. PU B LI SH E RS Victoria Starr Marshall David Marshall EDITOR Victoria Starr Marshall COPY EDITOR Tina Potterf ART DIRECTOR Philip Krayna WEBSITE Philip Krayna ADVERTISING Dale Bohm DISTRIBUTION & CIRCULATION David Marshall COVE R PH OTO Philip Krayna 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. Copyright ©2020 Oshi Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved. Oshi Publishing, LLC, 81 Canal Lane Brinnon, WA 98320 · 360-796-4837 Email: info@3rdActMag.com For subscriptions, advertising rates, and additional information, see us online at www.3rdActMag.com.


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contents FEATURES 26 THE UNSUNG HEROES OF CAREGIVING An aging population, a pandemic, and politics make a tough job even harder. PRISCILLA CHARLIE HINCKLEY



Seasoned leaders tackle COVID-19 in Washington State. ANN RANDALL



CRISIS Practical steps to increase

your resiliency amid change and disruption. JOHN C. ROBINSON


Four elder activists embrace technology to stay engaged. SALLY FOX


Connie Gallant's long fight to expand protection of Olympic Peninsula wildlands gains traction. ANN HEDREEN

32 50


Petting Birds: What coping methods work for you? LINDA HENRY



When a virus goes viral. ANNIE CULVER

16 M ONEY Considerations for

investors in upside down times. ROBERT TOOMEY


Advance care planning leads to better peace of mind. DR. ERIC B. LARSON


fall 2020

| 3rd Act magazine




A long-lost friendship is rekindled. KAREN BAGNARD


The 2020 winners of NOCA's photo contest "Aging Well for All." NATIONAL COUNCIL ON AGING


A do-it-yourself instruction manual for navigating in an information— and disinformation—age. GAIL BUSH


The part I play in systemic racism. VICTORIA STARR MARSHALL


NOW! Don't miss out. Resolve to

stay connected. SALLY FOX

48 MY THIRD ACT An unexpected journey from academia to activism. SCOTT FREEMAN

56 TRAVEL DREAMING A reminder of what awaits us at the other end of this crisis: The Italian Love of Eating. RICK STEVES



Could the COVID-19 pandemic be a catalyst for positive cultural evolution? MICHAEL C. PATTERSON

20 TOO MANY MEDS Take these steps to avoid the harm of taking too many medications. GAYLE ESPOSITO


PEARL What I did when my cat Just Said No to "drugs."



OF CORONAVIRUS Telehealth expansion delivers care at a distance. CONNIE MCDOUGALL


Alzheimer's did not rob my friend's ability to make me laugh. DOROTHY VAN SOEST

54 A MID BLIGHT, LIFE BLOOMS Recovery in a garden and a garden in recovery. HOLLIS GIAMMATTEO

58 N OURISH YOUR BODY Bring a taste of Italy to your own kitchen. REBECCA CRICHTON


Co-starring Seattle: Filmed in Seattle flicks to watch at home. MISHA BERSON

We’re In This Together A Once-in-Hundred-Year Pandemic Challenges and Changes Us

62 BOOKS Grand: A Grandparent's

Wisdom for a Happy Life by Charles Johnson Reviewed by Victoria Starr Marshall


Challenge yourself with these word puzzles.


Social Justice with Social Distancing



A Tough Job Just Got Harder


Cope with Unwelcome Change

3rd Act magazine | fall 2020

Cover: Pandemic fashion. Photographed by Philip Krayna, www.modiv.photography. Masks courtesy of futrmasks.com.

LETTERS Life’s Unforeseen Changes Just read the Winter 2020 issue and realize how different our current life is from the one your editors projected us to have this year. You so encouraged us to get out, circulate, network in different experiences, meet new friends, etc. I’ve now been home for over a month, leaving only three times to pick up preordered groceries curbside. At least we have opportunities for humor. Your magazine is always so interesting. It’s one of the bonuses of living in Washington. — Eva Beeks Editor: Yes, Eva, life has sure changed but the importance of being socially engaged has not. While we need to physically distance ourselves right now, it’s more important than ever that we maintain our social and heart connections. Check out our calendar at 3rdActMag.com for exciting and interesting virtual classes and events. Many are free to attend. Stay safe and well.

Reader Recommendation I first saw your lovely magazine at a doctor’s office, took a postcard from it and immediately subscribed. I enjoy the mix of articles and the literary quality. I am 80 years old and also enjoy the upbeat nature of your articles. If I had one suggestion to make it would be to include a list of recommended books and movies that fit our age and lifestyles. I’m sure you are doing fine without it and you may have your reasons, but I would really appreciate it. —Janna Gage Editor: Thank you, Janna. Check out our book reviews and book club at 3rdActMag.com.

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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Petting Birds BY LINDA HENRY

IN A CLASSIC PEANUTS COMIC, Linus explains to Lucy that when depressed, he pets birds. During these difficult times have we, like Linus, discovered ways to manage our feelings? And if so, what might we teach others about resilience, now and in the future?

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

Own our feelings The only certainty we have today is uncertainty. The disruption to our daily lives has been overwhelming, no matter how good our coping skills. It would be unrealistic to expect that we are all “hanging on” in the same way, and we would be remiss not to acknowledge our deepest feelings. There is nothing wrong about admitting to feeling depressed, anxious, frightened, or even angry. One active man over 60 with no highrisk health issues found himself being treated differently by family and friends. “I felt that I had become decrepit overnight,” he confessed. Sharing our feelings with friends and family can be a relief. Tap into the past Most of us can identify life-altering events we have lived through. We may have experienced major loss, a recession, war, previous flu epidemics, or the fear of polio. Remembering how we coped previously can guide us today.

benefits has been to increase our comfort level with newer technology. The desire to connect has motivated us to learn how to participate in virtual classes, meetings, or an intergenerational family game night through Zoom or other such communication tool. Stay engaged Research underscores the strong sense of purpose retirees exhibit, keeping them more active, healthier, and happier. With in-person volunteer activities curtailed, it can be a challenge to rethink how to stay engaged in our communities. One woman organized her neighborhood into making and distributing face masks. Some have created or participated by phone or email to check on other individuals, while others support local restaurants by regularly ordering take-out meals. Staying current with important community information and voting are available anytime. Look for contentment Watch a sunset, plant something new, listen to the birds, or be soothed by the sound of rain. While we may not pet birds like Linus, we all can pay attention to the small things that bring us pleasure.

As we navigate these uncertain times, I am reminded of how deeply we are connected. As Chief Seattle (Suquamish Tribe) said, “Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”

Share teachable moments Young people have little experience in dealing with major life disruptions. Older adults can play an important role in communicating how they managed such times. One mother reported that her young adult daughter had no understanding of the significance of the 1918 flu epidemic until she heard her grandfather’s story. Learn something new One of the myths of growing older is that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. While staying home has given us more time to devote to personal interests, one of the most important


3rd Act magazine | fall 2020



In today’s uncertain times, it has become increasingly difficult to know what’s true. The growth of social media, smart devices and a multitude of online sources offer unprecedented access to information. But with that access comes the threat of those who seek to deceive or trick consumers. To help Washingtonians better sort fact from fiction, AARP, the Center for an Informed Public at the University of Washington and BECU are offering a series of free online events. Join us as our speakers offer tips on how to spot misinformation and scams, and where to go for the facts behind the claims.

Visit aarp.org/factfromfiction for event details. Pre-registration is required. CONFRONTING MISINFORMATION: How to avoid falling for and spreading misinformation, disinformation, and “fake news.” Jevin West, Director of the nonpartisan Center for an Informed Public at the University of Washington Wednesday, September 16 | 11 a.m. – Noon INSIDE THE MIND OF “THE ORIGINAL INTERNET GODFATHER”: A former Dark Web mastermind details how scammers convince you to hand over your hard-earned money. Brett Johnson, former Dark Web con artist Saturday, October 3 | 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Aging with Confidence

THE FUTURE OF LYING: The New Rules of Deception and Trust Jeffrey Hancock, PhD, Stanford University Wednesday, October 14 | 6 – 7 p.m. THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE: Fact Checking Tips and Resources A roundtable discussion with experts from some of the leading fact checking organizations. Saturday, October 24 | 11 a.m. – Noon

fall 2020

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Finding Hope in 2020 by Michael C. Patterson

Oddly enough, I’m finding cause for optimism amid the turmoil and trauma of 2020. I have a new-found optimism that the human mind is evolving in a positive direction, moving toward altruism, empathy, compassion, and equity and away from greed, selfishness, and tribalism. The human mind is shaped by both biological and cultural evolution. Both can produce minds capable of good and evil. But it is with cultural evolution that I find reasons for hope. Biological (Darwinian) evolution (BioEv) has worked slowly and incrementally across millions of years of Homo sapiens history to shape the basic architecture of the human mind. It has no conscience, morality, or values. There is no intelligent designer who directs the evolution of the human mind toward goodness and away from evil. BioEv is only concerned with adaptability, survival, and reproduction. The driving imperative isn’t morality, ethics, or even improvement, but simply


3rd Act magazine | fall 2020

the replication of our genetic material. In fact, BioEv doesn’t progress toward anything, except perhaps complexity. Human beings are certainly more complex than bacteria or cockroaches, but are no more successful at survival and reproduction than these simpler organisms. Cultural evolution (CultEv) is different. CultEv can have a conscience because it is driven by culture and we create our own culture. CultEv is propelled by memes, rather than genes, and human beings purposely design memes to alter the way minds work. Since our minds create our sense of self and the way we perceive the world, memes can have powerful effects on what we feel and how we behave.

Consider the power of advertising to fuel passionate consumerism. Consider the power of propaganda to drive people to go to war with each other, to sacrifice their lives to promote a political ideology, to commit genocide. Consider the power of religious beliefs to evoke the best and the worst in human nature. Memes are packets of cognitive information that get implanted in human minds. Richard Dawkins, who coined the term in his book The Selfish Genes, explains that memes can “parasitize [a] brain, turning it into a vehicle for the meme’s propagation in just the same way that a virus may parasitize the genetic mechanism of a host cell.” Memes spread across the population by leaping from one brain to the next, transmitted by word-ofmouth, text messages, tweets, and Google searches. Memes can even be passed from generation to generation through imitation, learning, books, video, and all the emerging forms of digital communication. The glimmer of hope and optimism I find in current events rests in the fact that memes can have a conscience. They can direct the development of the human mind away from bigotry and www.3rdActMag.com

Bringing Back the House Call

hate, and toward tolerance, forgiveness, and compassion. I see this kind of positive evolution in the response to the coronavirus. The pandemic has forced everyone to recognize that we share a single habitat—planet earth. We are all connected and must cooperate to protect the most vulnerable among us. To varying degrees the people of the world have sacrificed their own comfort and security to promote the common good. We need to craft memes that capture the spirit and power of these altruistic urges and insure their survival and propagation. A newly energized, broad-based civil rights movement has emerged in response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Rayshard Brooks. The protests against bigotry have been incredibly diverse with people embracing the meme that “If any one of us is oppressed, we are all oppressed.” The memes generated by the powerful impact of “I Can’t Breathe” and Black Lives Matter resonate across borders and deep into past histories—consider the resonance of “We Shall Overcome” and “I Have a Dream” that continue Aging with Confidence

to inspire us today. Positive memes, of course, must be more than slogans, more than bold aspirations. I’m optimistic and hopeful in 2020 because I feel that the memes of social justice, of reason, and humanism are really altering the structure and function of the human mind. It feels as though we are becoming a kinder and more compassionate species. At the same time, I am not so naïve as to think that the evolving goodness of human nature is inevitable. We must continue to create cultural institutions that promote equity and justice. We must use our voting power to rid politics of wannabe dictators and self-centered sycophants. We must infuse our culture with the ethics of inclusiveness and fairness. We must protect and create institutions that treat everyone with dignity, respect, and compassion. Michael C. Patterson, founder and CEO of MINDRAMP Consulting, writes extensively on the art and science of brain health and mental flourishing. He is an educator and consultant who previously managed AARP’s Staying Sharp brain health program and helped develop the field of creative aging.

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fall 2020

| 3rd Act magazine 11


When a Virus


umor blankets the coronavirus pandemic with the comforts of comic relief. At first, to laugh or even snicker over toilet paper fistfights in grocery stores seemed like a callous reaction when COVID-19 victims started to perish. By mid-March, Steven Taylor, a psychiatry professor at the University of British Columbia, suggested TP was “like a good-luck charm” that made folks feel safe, even though it couldn’t ward off the virus. Soon a pal emailed a photo of Caboo, two-ply, septic-safe, soft, and sustainable bamboo bath tissue. Then along came a meme of a guy holding a huge head of cabbage at a supermarket. “Oh look, vegan toilet paper, only 49 cents a roll,” it read. When fear, uncertainty, and isolation grew into day-to-day reality as this horrific health crisis enveloped the world, more unexpected sparks of hope emerged. Everybody began to crave laughter as much or more than hot fudge sundaes and cozy pajama bottoms as day wear. Then again, Seattleite Mark Boyd in late March started to post “Poetry Before Coffee,” his Facebook poetic gifts to friends. In this one, Boyd might not suggest limiting sundaes to Sundays, but flattening the curve takes on new meaning: The goal, “make the curve flat” Seems to refer to my belly fat. I exercise to make it go away. But long hours at home we have to stay. With time to fill, friends take up baking. Now many personal curves are in the making. So have a care as your tummy rounds. Beware putting on those COVID-19 pounds.


3rd Act magazine | fall 2020


As scary as life turned out to be—with that ever-present curve, skyrocketing unemployment, and so many narrative delusions—levity soothed the soul. In no time, the whirl of wacky emails, links to comical YouTube videos and memes flew across the Internet like bees racing to pollinate a flower garden in bloom. “Keep ’em coming!” friends insist. Then they reciprocate with their own amazing finds. Generating smiles via these web gems became the great pandemic challenge for many housebound retirees. “You can’t spell virus without U and I,” was one new line. Introverts, though, might prefer communal, one-hour silent reading sessions daily on Zoom. Or, on the flipside, interactive Drunk Yoga® classes offered online, purported “to lift your spirits.” Comedians Stephen Colbert and John Mulaney expressed curiosity about both online groups.

“A PSYCHIATRY PROFESSOR AT THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA SUGGESTED TP WAS ‘LIKE A GOOD-LUCK CHARM’ THAT MADE FOLKS FEEL SAFE, EVEN THOUGH IT COULDN’T WARD OFF THE VIRUS.” A British family shared a video parody of “One Day More” from the musical Les Misérables. They developed their own lyrics based on inevitable stay-home frustrations. Their terrific talent caught the ear of the BBC and NPR. Now there are thousands more pandemic-inspired tunes. News about Donuts Delite in Rochester, N.Y., won national media attention with its “Doc Donuts,” featuring the familiar face of who has become synonymous with the COVID-19 task force, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National

Aging with Confidence

Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Despite Centers for Disease Control and Prevention memos suggesting public use of masks is not culturally accepted in the U.S. the way it is in Asian countries, Americans began to embrace masks to reduce spread of the virus. N-95s aside, masks are high fashion now. Consider this flirty compliment: “That mask brings out the beauty in your eyes.” One photomontage mask by a British artist sports a toothy smile with glossy red lipstick across a bare female breast. It’s part of a crowdfunding campaign to support artists and museums in the UK. Instagram and YouTube feature goofy tips on turning brassiere cups and thong undies into masks. You can mask up to look like your favorite pet—even Bigfoot. Mask choices at TeePublic are dizzying. Look like Guy Fieri or Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley or Chief Sitting Bull. They sell out fast, too. And for each kitschy or clever face mask sold, TeePublic donates a medical grade surgical mask to Direct Relief. Beyond face coverings, the company also offers a T-shirt for the 2020 Stay at Home Festival featuring, among others, Couch Test Dummies, Miley Virus, No Kids on the Block, Men Out of Work, Depressed Mode, Billy Idle, Pearl Jammies, and special guest System of a Lockdown. The barrage of laughable communiques and joy enhancers may well continue until the populace of the entire planet is vaccinated. Meanwhile, an ingenious pandemic parody prompted a Jesuit priest to remark, “It’s either an answer to a prayer or a fantasy for survival. Both work for me.” Seattleite Annie Culver worked as a staff writer and editor for five daily newspapers in Canada and the U.S. before working for universities in the Northwest. She’s retired now and enjoys freelancing.

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fall 2020

| 3rd Act magazine 13



took a pandemic for me to pick up those loose threads and start weaving them back together. A rich friendship of 50 years ended nearly 10 years BY KAREN ago over who knows what. I BAGNARD don’t remember the details of the brouhaha, but I do know that she hung up on me and I was furious. She wouldn’t pick up the phone when I called back, so I wrote a scathing letter. Since then I’ve really missed her. My ego told me that I was right, and she was wrong, so I just never tried to call again. Of course, her ego was telling her the reverse and she never reached out to me either. Even with all the lovely memories that a lifetime provides and how I missed her terribly, I never called her. I had long ago deleted her email address and, when I got my new address book years ago, didn’t include her address or phone number. As I lay on my bed a few weeks ago trying to take a short power nap, I kept thinking about her. How was she doing in Sacramento during this “shelter in place?” I couldn’t call her. I couldn’t even remember her number. How could I ever forget her number? She was like a sister to me. She was more like a sister than my blood sister. I remembered her


3rd Act magazine | fall 2020

little niece’s voice on the answering machine recording sing-songing her number, “You have reached 916-455-blah, blah, blah.” Then it came to me—her number popped back into my head! I sat up and reached for the bedside phone. I just had to find out if it would be a wrong number or the right one. Three times it rang, then someone picked it up … “Karen?” “Yes, it’s me and I’m sitting in the same place I was sitting 10 years ago when you hung up on me.” My old friend laughed and asked if that “gave me chills.” “No!” I said and then we both laughed as though no time had passed. She said she had forgiven me a long time ago, but it took her a lot longer to forgive herself for throwing our friendship away. I told her I had missed her and thought of her a lot and that I couldn’t even remember what MY EGO TOLD we argued about. ME THAT I Then she told me, WAS RIGHT, “We’re too old for AND SHE WAS this nonsense! We WRONG, SO can never let this I JUST NEVER happen again.” TRIED TO CALL From there, we talked for more AGAIN. than two hours. We refer to the 10 years apart as our “gap years.” We’ve since had at least three marathon phone conversations and numerous emails back and forth. We have a lot to catch up on. The day after I made this initial call to my old friend, I got another surprise. Another friend whom I’d lost touch with called me. I was surprised and delighted! We had a great conversation and promised to get together as soon as we are able. Like me, she was picking up loose threads, too. Loose threads can be woven back together and made even stronger. Sometimes it just takes a pandemic for it to happen. Karen Bagnard, a self-taught California artist, has produced a line of frameable art greeting cards for 32 years (www. morethanmermaids.com). She is a mother, grandmother, a “sage” for Sages & Seekers (www.sagesandseekers.org) and an active member of the Pasadena Village.


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fall 2020

| 3rd Act magazine 15


Considerations for Older Investors in Upside Down Times BY ROBERT TOOMEY

Robert Toomey, CFA/CFP, is vice president of research for S. R. Schill Associates on Mercer Island.


FOR MANY PEOPLE, investing can seem like a daunting task given all the elements involved: economy, the Federal Reserve, corporate profits, investment selection, geopolitical risks, and volatility risk, to name a few. The introduction of a new element, COVID-19, has made investing that much more difficult because of the high degree of uncertainty around the path of the virus and its ultimate impact on the economy. All of this weighs on investor sentiment and increases market instability and variability. For investors in or nearing retirement, heightened market swings can increase the risk of a major asset drawdown at the worst possible time, therefore reducing portfolio volatility is very important. One way to reduce the risk of a major capital drawdown is through portfolio diversification. Essentially, this means holding more than one asset class and preferably, several asset classes, such as stocks, bonds, commodities, and real estate, within the portfolio. Holding multiple asset classes helps to dampen volatility and reduce the impact on the portfolio of a major drawdown in one or more of those asset classes. For example, historically bond prices have tended to rise when stock prices decline. Holding both stocks and bonds in a portfolio helps to reduce the impact of a sharp decline in one asset class, thereby reducing portfolio volatility. A recent study by Morningstar showed that over 20 years, ending March 31, 2020, a diversified portfolio weighted 60 percent equities and 40 percent bonds actually outperformed an all-stock index, the S&P 500. This demonstrates how impactful diversification can be during

3rd Act magazine | fall 2020

a period of heightened market volatility. Stable and growing portfolio income is increasingly important in retirement. In addition to supplementing other sources of retirement income, higher income in portfolios has shown to add stability to returns over long periods of time. The reason for this is prices of bonds and dividend-paying stocks tend to be more stable, which in turn helps reduce portfolio volatility. Studies have shown that dividend-paying stocks, particularly those that grow dividends, have generated higher absolute returns than market averages over long periods. Thus, holding quality stocks that pay stable and rising dividends provides the multiple benefits of rising income and enhanced portfolio stability and can lead to higher absolute returns. Finally, having a good financial plan can help to reduce stress and anxiety for many retirees because it provides a better understanding and roadmap with respect to one’s finances and financial capacity. A good financial plan will take into account retirement assets, projected income and expenses, debt, investment returns, cash flow risks, longevity and health risks, estate planning, and other life goals. By providing the client with a path that provides the highest probability of success, a good financial plan can reduce financial stress and increase confidence in one’s financial outlook, thereby greatly enhancing quality of life in retirement.



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Cope Cope withwith Unwelcome Unwelcome Change Change


Advance Care Planning Leads to Better Peace of Mind BY DR. ERIC B. LARSON

Dr. Eric B. Larson is a senior scientist at Kaiser Permanente Washington and author of Enlightened Aging: Building Resilience for a Long, Active Life (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017).


I’VE HEARD MUCH TALK about silver linings in this dark cloud we call the COVID-19 pandemic. Traffic is lighter, for instance, and there’s less pollution. We’ve got more time to read and we’re learning to Zoom with grandchildren. Let me add one more: Many are thinking more deeply about their own mortality. In ordinary times, few people I know think about their own deaths on a daily basis. But facts about the pandemic are hard to ignore: Older people and those with certain chronic conditions are at highest risk of dying from COVID-19. The news reminds us that life is short, death is real, and we can find meaning in simple blessings. I think of a quote from Ronald Blythe’s The View in Winter: Reflections on Old Age. “What does it feel like to be nearly 100 years old?” the shepherd’s widow asks. “You wake up and say, ‘Still here?’ Then make the tea.” People also seem more willing to contemplate their wishes and plans for late-life care and end of life. Health care providers report that since COVID-19 emerged, increased numbers of patients have completed advance directives such as living wills and durable powers of attorney for health care. Such documents help patients to be more intentional and communicate their choices around accepting or rejecting care and to appoint others to make care decisions for them if they are no longer able. This activation is a good thing. It’s as though we’re finding a new metaphor for death. Given there’s no way to win a “battle” against aging, we’re burying the hatchet in a manner that puts health care providers, patients, and the true nature of life and death all on the same side. I have long urged my patients to complete

3rd Act magazine | fall 2020

advance directives and to share such documents with their relatives and health care teams. I began doing so years ago after witnessing too many situations where patients suffered unnecessarily near the end of life because providers and family members simply did not know what a gravely ill person wanted. Uncertainty can lead to prolonged care that has little or no value. Advance directives can prevent this—especially when they include specific guidance about what a person wants and does not want.

So my advice during this pandemic is the same always: Be sure you have an advance directive that truly expresses what you want. Keep in mind that your ideas and preferences may change over time or according to your circumstances. If you completed your advance directive some time ago, you might want to revisit it, just in case your views have changed. And remember, an advanced care plan is only that—a plan. In addition to documentation, we need real conversations with our physicians, other caregivers, relatives, and friends to inform our decisions. Help to frame such conversations is available from organizations such as Compassion & Choices (www.compassionandchoices.org), which provides a comprehensive guide to help people explore their values and develop legal documents to describe their wishes. The site also provides tools for talking about end-of-life care with your family, friends, and health care providers. I have observed that taking such steps can lead to greater peace of mind, which is something all us can appreciate during these extraordinary times.


Aging with Confidence

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Too Many Meds?

A Tale of Medication Overload By Gayle Esposito

Taking lots of medications is, for many of us, an inevitable part of getting older. While some of these drugs help keep us healthy, there are serious risks to taking too many. For my husband, the drugs he was prescribed to alleviate his symptoms became a cascade of medications that eventually destroyed his health.

Joe’s Story: Medication Overload My husband Joe was in remarkable shape in his mid-50s, effortlessly running half marathons and competing in racquetball tournaments. But when he sought treatment for a flare-up of Crohn’s disease, his list of medications


3rd Act magazine | fall 2020

escalated from one to six to 20, with each one presenting a new side effect. The steroids and other immunosuppressants he was prescribed to treat Crohn’s led to bone loss, skin infections, fistulas, and a temporary colostomy, a bag worn outside of his body to collect his waste. An antibiotic for the infections caused painful nerve damage in his feet. He couldn’t sleep from the pain so he was prescribed three different sleeping pills and two pain relievers. Another class of drugs called biologics activated tuberculosis around Joe’s heart. This life-threatening condition required a month of hospitalization.

My husband’s health and medications continued to spiral over the next decade and he had numerous doctor visits and hospitalizations due to side effects from prescribed medications. At the time of his death, Joe was taking 20 different drugs daily, yet none of his physicians saw his medications as a problem worth addressing or considered that his symptoms were caused by the drugs and not the Crohn’s disease.

Side Effects of Overmedication Unfortunately, my husband’s story is not unique. Every day in the U.S., 750 older adults, age 65 and over, are hospitalized for an adverse drug event (ADE) due to side effects from medications. Each additional prescription drug increases one’s chance of an ADE and older adults are taking more medications than ever. More than 40 percent of older adults are taking five or more medications— the threshold that many health professionals believe put patients at


high risk for ADEs—triple the rate in the mid-1990s. However, in my many years as a patient advocate, I have found there are steps that patients and caregivers can take to avoid harm from too many medications. Many of these steps are outlined in greater detail in Eliminating Medication Overload: A National Action Plan, recently published by the Lown Institute (I served on the working group that developed this plan). The first step is to become a smarter consumer and recognize that taking more medications puts you and your loved ones at a greater risk of ADEs. Every doctor’s appointment does not need to result in a new medication. Second, you can take preventive action to reduce the risk of harm. Before adding another medication to your or a family member’s regimen, ask your health care provider the following questions to better understand the potential risks and benefits of the medication: • What is this medication for? • How many patients like me are helped by this medication? • When should I stop taking this medication? How will we know when it’s working? • Can I start on a lower dose and see if that works? • Are there side effects I should watch out for if I take this medication? Lastly, if you or a loved one are troubled by medication side effects or

Aging with Confidence

the burden of managing too many pills, ask your doctor for a “prescription checkup” to talk about any side effects you’re concerned about and identify medications that can be stopped or tapered. Remember to never stop or adjust your medications without first discussing it with your doctor.

Personal Responsibility Isn’t Enough Working for the last year with the Lown Institute on its National Action Plan, I’ve come to realize that the forces that drive medication overload are embedded deep in the culture of medicine. We can all take responsibility for asking our doctors more questions about the prescriptions they are writing, but we also need to demand action from health care leaders and policy makers. These include: • Launching public awareness campaigns that inform consumers about the risks associated with taking too many medications. • Improving health care professional education by including stronger content on the risks of medications for older adults and information on how and when to deprescribe. As many physicians have said during this project, “It is easier to prescribe than deprescribe.” • Improving care coordination so that the multiple providers we see are working together and have, at their fingertips, a full list of the medications prescribed—and for what reason.

• Reining in pharmaceutical company advertising, which is designed solely to convince us to take medications and does not adequately explain the benefits and risks. • Ensuring Medicare pays for annual prescription checkups for all older adults taking multiple medications. We should be able to spend an hour with our primary care provider to review our medications and ensure they are aligned with our current health and quality of life goals. These change as we age. The Lown Institute predicts that if current trends continue, medication overload will lead to the premature deaths of 150,000 older Americans over the next decade. Millions will have a poorer quality of life as the result of serious medication side effects. As the National Action Plan concludes, “Strong, coordinated, and immediate action is needed to stem the tide of this epidemic, which harms people of all ages, but especially older generations. We must address the pervasive culture of ‘more is better’ in medicine, conduct needed research to provide better information at the point of care, and light a path to minimizing the number of unnecessary and potential harmful drugs patients are taking.” Gayle Esposito is a retired Instructional Technology Specialist and teacher in Atlanta, Georgia. She volunteers with Mothers Against Medical Error, JDRF, and Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. Her interest in patient advocacy stems from her experience as the caregiver for her husband, Dr. Joseph Esposito.

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PILLING PEARL “You cannot look at a sleeping cat and feel tense.” —JANE PAULEY

Pearl, my eight-yearBY DORI GILLAM old cat, began sneezing recently. I took her to the vet, who in turn referred me to an internist who proceeded to explain that Pearl might have aspirated a seed or a piece of grass. On the other hand, and a bleaker possibility, the vet explained it could be polyps, feline herpes, or cancer. And here I thought it was just a cold. And so began the “talk” about that four-letter word: test. Or in this case, lots of recommended tests, from a CT scan—aka, a “cat scan”—to inserting a tiny camera on a scope up Pearl’s nose and then down her throat. During the procedures she’d need to be anesthetized and intubated and I’d need to pay $3,500. “Is there any medication we could try first?” said my bank account, knowing that feeding a pill to my skittish Pearl may present a whole host of challenges. Fortunately, medication was an option with anti-viral and antibiotic pills to try. Pearl is not the docile

kind of feline who naps in the sun and entertains by agreeing to play dress up in a cute or kitschy costume. She and I have a clear social contract: she lets me feed her and I let her sit on my lap while I work. It doesn’t include coercion. She took one look at the pills and locked eyes with me,


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3rd Act magazine | fall 2020


clearly saying “no” to drugs. Then she darted. How was I going to help her get well? Could I skip the pills and let nature take its course? So I did what any well-intentioned cat parent would do—I turned to the Internet. I watched the YouTube video, “How to Give a Cat a Pill.” While it was tragically funny and mirrored my early failed attempts, it didn’t help me. Next, I turned to my neighbors who tried valiantly, but in vain, to pill Pearl. No luck there. Once again, I turned to an expert—a vet technician who, for $40, made a house call to demonstrate the trick to getting a pill into my cat and having it stay there. She was a patient teacher and Pearl tolerated the procedure. I learned how to give her the pills and because I didn’t force it, I never got scratched. I, like most, love having pets. Our pets give us consolation and company. They provide endless entertainment and are conversation starters. They require our devotion and our care. For months we’ve been missing human hugs and touching. We miss the heartbeat connection. Pets help fill that need, which explains the recent wave of adoptions from local shelters, a trend that I hope continues in a postCOVID-19 world. As for my Pearl, she is getting better. And petting her certainly helps meowt by lowering my blood pressure after a day of grappling with the human news stories.

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Dori Gillam is a speaker and writer on positive aging. She’s worked for Sound Generations (a local nonprofit serving older adults) and AARP. She is a speaker for Washington Humanities, facilitates Wisdom Cafes throughout King County, and is a member of the Seattle Age Friendly Task Force.

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Simon Katumu is a primary care provider at Pacific Medical Centers and sees patients at the Puyallup location.

Health Care in the


Age of Coronavirus


here have been mixed political messages on how COVID-19 is spread but this much is not in dispute by health experts— it is very contagious, and people are advised to limit exposure wherever and whenever possible. No wonder, then, that telehealth is an increasingly popular way to access medical care, especially for the most vulnerable populations. While non-experts use the words telehealth and telemedicine interchangeably, they are not the same. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, “telemedicine is the practice of using technology to deliver care at a distance. A physician in one location … to deliver care to a patient at


3rd Act magazine | fall 2020

a distant site. Telehealth refers broadly to electronic and telecommunications technologies and services used to provide care and service at a distance.” It’s important to note that during the coronavirus pandemic, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services lifted some limitations on telehealth reimbursements. Simon Katumu, a primary care provider with Pacific Medical Centers (PacMed), notes a definite rise in this model of care. “During the pandemic, we’ve used telehealth much more, utilizing tools such as telephone consultations, Zoom meetings and PacMed’s MyChart.” The latter offers online access to a variety of services

Photo Courtesy DispatchHealth

including test results, prescription renewals and virtual appointments with a health care provider. The benefits of using these tools are clear. “They help reduce exposure in the pandemic and are also convenient,” says Katumu. “We’ve seen great benefits for our patients.” He says that initially the thought was that older patients may not warm up to this technology but that hasn’t been the case. “They can do it or get assistance from someone who’s tech savvy. It hasn’t been much of a problem.” Katumu acknowledges there are limitations to tech. “We can’t draw blood virtually. We can’t complete physical examinations, like listen www.3rdActMag.com

to hearts and lungs. So, it’s not a replacement for face-to-face care but it is a great addition to our toolkit.” Security is also an issue when sharing sensitive medical information remotely. PacMed is partnering with Providence to use a dedicated, secure portal for patient visits through Zoom. The enhanced measures include encryption, meeting identifications and verification to ensure that the patient telehealth visit is a private and secure experience. Even so, patients are advised to have secure systems at home and to find out what security measures are in place with their particular health care providers. Another model of care that reduces trips to the doctor is mobile urgent care. “We like to say we’re bringing back the house call,” says Valerie Rose, community engagement manager with DispatchHealth, a new company

in Washington state that provides advanced medical care for urgent and non-emergency medical needs. “We do an initial risk-assessment by phone,” she explains. “Within 90 minutes a care team arrives, which includes a physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner along with a medical technician.”

Telemedicine is the practice of using technology to deliver care at a distance. DispatchHealth offers a variety of services to all ages, from flu shots to stitches, and is especially appealing to older folks, Rose says. “There is no travel, no exposure, and most services are covered by insurance, Medicare and Medicaid.”

Plus, there’s the luxury of time. “When was the last time you had 45 minutes of undivided attention with a medical provider?” In addition, doctor referrals are not needed and it’s not as expensive as a trip to the emergency room. “We are a great adjunct to primary care,” says Rose. DispatchHealth is currently testing and exploring telehealth options in select markets to expand their house call model. As devastating as COVID-19 is, it has driven innovative ways in which people access medical care. And the genie is unlikely going back in the bottle. “I do think it’s here to stay,” says PacMed’s Katumu. “I think we’ll maintain what we have at this point and I expect it will grow and expand in the future.” Connie McDougall is a former news reporter and current freelance writer of nonfiction and personal essays. She lives in Seattle.

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fall 2020

| 3rd Act magazine 25

Agape staff (Back to front): Tim Cooke, Chantal Mutesi, Grace Uwase, Noella Muhamiriza, and Alexis Ruhumuriza

Photo courtesy Family Resource Home Care

The Unsung Heroes of Caregiving


athy Herigstad was 60 years old during her father’s last year of life. Nearly 90, Russel had progressive, age-related memory loss, an enlarged prostate, atrial fibrillation, and a mass in one lung that his doctor believed to be cancer, for which he refused treatment. He just wanted to see what would happen. Kathy promised to take care of him, in his home, until he died. A stoic Norwegian, Russel simply said, “I like it here.” As it turned out, caring for her dad at home was beyond what many people could have managed. Kathy had moved back to her childhood home a decade earlier to help maintain the household by cooking, cleaning and doing repairs, while continuing her career managing a busy physician’s office. As his health declined and his memory loss increased, caring for Russel became far more intense. “Especially in his last year, that was my sole responsibility. I would go to


3rd Act magazine | fall 2020

Huriya, says Kathy, “was loving, very compassionate, and like family.” Huriya fed Russel, changed his pull-ups, watched him to prevent falls, and helped him exercise, brush his teeth, and bathe. Besides physical care, Huriya would laugh and chat, work, come home, take care of him,” encouraging Russel to tell stories. She Kathy says. made caregiving human for him, not It wasn’t just that she didn’t get out just clinical. much, see her friends, or take her usual After her own work, Kathy would exercise run. Even while she was at come home and take care of Russel at work, Kathy checked the “daddy cam” night. Sometimes he’d monitors she installed so be up every three hours, she could call 911 if he fell needing help. and couldn’t get up, which “Walking that last did happen sometimes. journey with him,” She was always “on” as remembers Kathy, “I a caregiver. And then, was always alert—my Russel broke his leg and whole internal system for could no longer walk. sleeping changed.” Had it He had to be lifted and gone on longer, she would carried from his bed to BY PRISCILLA have hired a nighttime a wheelchair, then to his CHARLIE HINCKLEY caregiver as well. “If I favorite recliner, the toilet, had to do that, at that wherever he needed to be. intensity, for two years, I would have It was exhausting. Kathy needed help. burned out.” “About six months before his death, AARP and the National Alliance for I hired a caregiver to come in during Caregiving published their Caregiving the day while I was at work. It started in the U.S. 2020 report in May. They at four hours, then increased to eight found that more than one in five hours as he declined.” Caregiver

An Aging Population, Pandemic, and Politics Makes a Tough Job Even Harder


Photo courtesy Family Resource Home Care

Americans are unpaid caregivers, taking care of family or friends, including adults and children with special needs. That’s an estimated 53 million adults, an increase from 43.5 million reported five years ago. These caregivers come from all walks of life and backgrounds. Three in five are women and two in five men. Fifty-three percent felt they had no choice in taking on a caregiver role. Of those who care for adults, the care recipient is usually a relative, most often a parent or parent-in-law, followed by a spouse or partner. About 40 percent of caregivers live with the recipient. And compared to five years ago, adults receiving care have increasingly complex medical and/or support needs. According to the report, 51 percent of family caregivers “feel their role has given them a sense of purpose or meaning.” At the same time, they report negative impacts on themselves. About 61 percent of caregivers are also working, leaving them little time to take care of their physical or emotional health. They may have to take time off from work or switch to part-time hours, affecting their own long-term financial Aging with Confidence

Agape co-owners Alexis and Tim bring coffee and PPE to caregivers.

stability. Caregivers who feel they had no choice in taking on their role are more vulnerable to the stress that goes with it. And that’s the dilemma: how to provide care for aging relatives while working, raising kids, having a life of one’s own—especially in a situation that may go on for years. If you can afford it, there’s help available. Home care workers provide recipients with companionship, meal preparation, shopping, support for chronic conditions, bathing and dressing, housekeeping, pet care, transportation, and also a respite for families. Care can be given anywhere the client calls “home,” including assisted living or other facilities. Benefits of hiring a professional caregiver, says Shawn D’Amelio, president of Washington Home Care Association, also include improved nutrition and hydration, medication compliance, and fewer trips to the ER. Hiring home caregivers takes some work. There are a couple of ways to go. You can network among friends and acquaintances to find someone who feels like a good fit, has caregiving experience—or wants to become a

caregiver—and employ them. There would be no outside supervision or follow-up on compliances; you would be responsible for any issues such as onthe-job injuries or illicit behavior. Costs vary, but could run from $15 to $21 per hour in Seattle, less in areas without a $15 minimum wage. Home care agencies are another option. In Washington, they are licensed with the state Department of Health and bonded. They perform background checks, require fingerprinting, conduct formal training, have backup caregivers if someone is ill, provide supervision, and support families. They take care of payroll, may provide benefits, and pay workers’ compensation for their employees. Agencies are pricier than hiring someone on your own, running approximately $28 to $46 per hour, and up to $90 per hour in some cases, depending on what’s needed. Short visits are more expensive than longer shifts. Shawn D’Amelio spent years as a caregiver before becoming director of development at home care agency With a Little Help. Building a relationship with clients is key. As she says, “You fall 2020

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can’t necessarily walk in on your first shift and give someone a shower.” D’Amelio emphasizes the importance of ongoing education, resources, and support for caregiving staff. For example, education around chronic diseases such as dementia or Parkinson’s allows caregivers to connect more effectively with clients. And there’s always someone to call for help. “If you have a team behind you, you call us and say you’re struggling, we’re going to work with you as a team to help you help your client and their family,” says D’Amelio. Training for home caregivers is required by the State of Washington and enforced by home care agencies. Employees must take a 75-hour course, followed by an examination, at their own expense to become certified as a home care aid. The training must be completed within 120 days of hired date, with testing completed within 200 days of hire. After adding in childcare and transportation, it can cost as much as $1,000 to become certified. This can be a substantial financial burden for people with a job that may only pay about $17 per hour. The need for caregivers is high and will get higher. Boomers are aging. It’s inevitable that many of us—if not most—will eventually need care ourselves. Turnover rate for caregivers is also high, up to 80 percent nationwide. Pay is low and higher rates would be beyond the reach of many people who need care. Depending on the situation, long-term care insurance, Veterans Affairs coverage, or Medicaid may help cover the cost. Beyond that, home care is private pay. Washington, however, has a plan to make home care more affordable. In 2019, the state passed the Long-Term Care Trust Act, the first of its kind in the nation. Through a mandatory payroll tax, employees will contribute


3rd Act magazine | fall 2020

to the trust, starting in 2022 and benefits will start being paid in 2025. Workers who contribute for a certain amount of time, and who require assistance with at least three activities of daily living, will be eligible for $100 per day, up to a $36,500 lifetime benefit. While it won’t benefit those who are already retired now, it’s an important step for the future.

“In my country, we don’t have caregiving, so family does it. It becomes part of life. When I came to this country, I found that older people didn’t have enough help. I thought I could do that.” —Chantal Mutesi Meanwhile, home care agencies are continually recruiting. “It’s a constant challenge to find the right caregivers and to retain them, given this is challenging work that takes a very special person to do,” says Sasha Weiler, chief marketing officer of Family Resource Home Care. “The one unifying value they all share is compassion. They must be patient and kind, they must be able to connect and gain trust, but also have the ability to be influential, even when clients don’t want to do the things that caregivers are there to help them do.” Word of mouth is huge, says Weiler, adding that current employees are encouraged to recommend friends and family, and often do. Offering good benefits and matching caregivers to the right clients, says Weiler, is key to retaining staff. Alexis Ruhumuriza and Tim Cooke, partners at Agape In Home Care, see caregiving as a stepping stone to something else, especially for immigrants. Agape’s mission is to work

with two vulnerable communities: an aging population and caregivers who are new to the U.S. Many of their employees, says Cooke, grew up in a culture of caring for older family members. Chantal Mutesi, from Rwanda, took care of her grandmother and her mother before coming to Seattle. “In my country,” she says, “we don’t have caregiving, so family does it. It becomes part of life. When I came to this country, I found that older people didn’t have enough help. I thought I could do that.” Agape’s goal is to motivate employees to move on after a few years to more highly paid, higher skilled work, while continually recruiting and training new caregivers. “They can be helping this country while building their own dreams. They can make a huge impact, a big contribution to this country,” says Ruhumuriza, a pastor and an immigrant himself. “We want to know what their goals for the future are.” Whether it’s family or a professional, a good caregiver offers more than simply skilled assistance with daily tasks of living. It’s the traits you can’t teach, says D’Amelio, that are essential to success: kindness, compassion, and love. Kathy felt it was an honor to care for her father. Chantal believes in treating people the way she would wish to be treated. “We learn something from caring for people,” Mutesi says. “Some of them share stories, tell you something about [an earlier] time, and I’m learning new English words as well. We share recipes, share things we like. It’s not just going there to work, but for friendship and companionship, too.” 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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Aging with Confidence

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| 3rd Act magazine 29



ou cried when you told me. loud as a slammed door. Our shared We were sitting in the cozily intimacies were filled as always with sophisticated home you’d created with contradictions like dueling dog barks— cast-off furniture and artwork insightful, ridiculous, bizarre, BY DOROTHY from your many friends. VAN SOEST irreverent, and hilarious. “Promise you won’t tell,” But that summer, all the you said through tears. “No one will see sentimentality of our shared history me anymore. Just what I forget.” was shattered by the loss of your last I promised. But we already knew five minutes. that summer when the four of us, According to the Alzheimer’s friends as close as sisters, were at the Association, there are 10 early signs lake cabin. We knew when you couldn’t and symptoms. Forgetting recently follow the instructions to Bananagram. learned information is one of the When you laughed and made up most common. Others include having your own rules. We knew when you trouble following a conversation, losing couldn’t figure out which door was the things and being unable to retrace one’s bathroom. We knew when you threw steps to find them again, getting easily up in the car on the way home. upset when out of one’s comfort zone In the midst of the magic of small and problems with decision-making. things, the potency of everyday life— But it was always hard for you to giggling like schoolgirls, painting each make decisions. Whenever we made other’s toenails and the smells of tuna plans to go out to eat, you’d call to fish, lasagna, and pecan pie—your change the time, or the place, or both. unholy diagnosis hung in the air as You chose several items on the menu


3rd Act magazine | fall 2020

before placing your order, then you’d call the waitress back to change it, and when your food came, you’d point at mine and say, “I should have ordered that.” You always forgot things. Lose things, once even a plane ticket. Did you know then and joke to cover it up? All those times I got frustrated or irritated. Did you have early onset Alzheimer’s then and I just didn’t understand? Oh, but you were such fun, the life of the party, witty and clever. I can still see you dancing on the table at one of our university parties. I can still see the twinkle in your eyes when you got us laughing so hard we begged for mercy. Five years ago your wonderful adult children, who I’ve known for 44 years, moved you to memory care. You didn’t want to go. Didn’t understand. I was living in Seattle so was only able to visit you once or twice a year. Each time, even as your disease progressed, you were as funny and alive and sexy as ever. One time, when us four “sisters” were at your favorite church, you www.3rdActMag.com

whispered in my ear. “I have a new boyfriend.” “Yeah? What’s his name?” “Tim.” You smiled. “And he likes me just as much as I like him.” After lunch, we brought you back to the memory care unit and you knocked on his door. You called out “are you decent” and then opened the door without waiting for his response. I heard that you slept with him and each morning the aid took you to your own room so Tim’s disapproving family wouldn’t know. I heard he was a priest. I hope that was true. During another visit you pointed to a painting of an elephant on the wall. “The elephants are coming back. The social workers are going to make sure they’re freed. It was in the paper.” I knew you were confabulating the recent news about the Ringling Brothers elephants but each time you repeated the story I listened as if it were the first. You thought you were living in the university building where we’d taught together. You talked about students you were concerned about. Whenever there was a problem in the memory care unit, you said you’d get the social workers to fix it. During my last visit I noticed that all your dresser drawers were labeled (panties, bras, pajamas) except for the

bottom one. “What’s in there,” I asked. The twinkle sparkled in your eyes. “Dirty socks.” “Dirty socks? What do you do with them?” “I take them out.” “And then?” “I put them on the floor.” “Then what do you do with them?” Your face lit up. “I. Lick. Them.” Oh my God, you had me rolling on the floor. And you loved it. I treasure that moment—you, outrageously funny as ever, and me, your willing collaborator. When you died, I felt sad and relieved. I don’t know what comes after we die but maybe, in death, we no longer forget things. Maybe, in death, we remember everything. Maybe, in death, it doesn’t matter whether we remember or forget. A few weeks later, I saw you early one morning when I was still in bed, half awake. You were suspended in space, doing cartwheels and flips and being your outrageous self. And now I know, wherever you and your energy are, that you are still laughing.


Dorothy Van Soest is a Seattle novelist, a professor emerita and a former dean of the University of Washington School of Social Work. See more of her work at www. dorothyvansoest.com

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Aging with Confidence

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When Experience Counts

Boomers Lead the Charge Against COVID-19 in Washington State It was an audacious coronavirus-related question eliciting possible emergency response. As a top Pacific Northwest a righteously indignant answer. “Is it possible to maintain trading partner, China’s state connections created strict social distancing for the elderly—anyone age 60 potential for a cross-Pacific spread. On January 21, when and older—while relaxing it for everyone else?” asked a a resident returning from China tested positive, Gov. millennial reporter of Washington Governor Jay Inslee Inslee was able to rapidly convene a press conference in a May interview. “That’s impossible,” the featuring updates from CDC medical experts, by Ann governor replied. “We aren’t going to take people Randall state and county health departments, and the once they reach 60 and segregate them. That’s not hospital caring for the patient. The lineup made consistent with any version of humanity. As a 69-year-old clear that decisions regarding the virus would be based myself, I believe 69-year-olds can be productive.” on science and medical expertise. By February, with four That exchange ref lected a critical assumption more verified cases, he declared a state of emergency underlying the state’s virus response from the get-go: and upped the ante in March by closing non-essential that it could become an all-ages pandemic requiring an businesses and issuing a stay-at-home recommendation. all-ages counterpunch. For key early leaders there was Post-January press conference, the public became zero tolerance for ageist talk of burdens and/or Gen Z familiar with a trio of senior public health officials with ridicule about Boomer Remover. Boomers, after all, fit a combined 90+ years of background in communicable the 60-ish demographic themselves and in the early days diseases. Making regular appearances in the Puget Sound and weeks of COVID-19, they exuded much-needed elder media were John Wiesman (59), Patty Hayes (60), and wisdom when little was known about the virus. Jeffrey Duchin (62). The trio regularly doled out public Gov. Inslee had been monitoring the virus outbreak health advice, warnings, statistics, and updates as the in China from its outset, laying the groundwork for a science behind COVID-19 became better understood.


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(Clockwise from top left): Jeffery Duchin, Health Officer, Public Health—Seattle/King County; Michelle Reid, Superintendent, Northshore School District; Governor Jay Inslee; Patty Hayes, Director of Public Health— Seattle/King County

It fell to Wiesman, the state’s Secretary of Public Health, to use his legislated authority to “implement procedures for instituting emergency measures necessary to prevent the spread of communicable disease.” Specifically, he proactively coordinated the statewide medical response, collected data, issued health orders, and, after the March closure mandate, approved county applications for the state’s four-phased approach to reopening. Patty Hayes, director of Public Health—Seattle & King County, was tasked in January with coordinating a Seattle-based incident command center. She had evolved from candy striper in the 1960s, to nursing career to agency head described as “the closest thing King County has as a sheriff for health.” Her calm demeanor was all business when racial incidents stoked fears among the Asian community. Hayes took to the media declaring, “Showing fear or hostility toward someone based upon how they look, it is not only wrong and hurtful, but it can harm our ability to keep everyone healthy. We need to be forceful in saying no discrimination will be tolerated.” The Health Officer in Public Health—Seattle & King County, Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, immediately doubled down on his annual flu season advice: stay home if sick, wash your hands, use hand sanitizer, avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth, and cover your mouth and nose if you Aging with Confidence

sneeze. With a resume of extensive work at the CDC and international work in infectious diseases, he realized early preventative measures were critical. By April, when Duchin first recommended facemasks to supplement the stay-at-home order, he’d garnered enough credibility to have public support for the measure. By the end of February, it had been a month since the initial diagnosed case, but at Kirkland’s Evergreen Health, Dr. Francis Riedo (65), medical director of infectious diseases suspected the virus hiatus was shortlived. His 39-year career in infectious diseases and tenure in the CDC’s elite program, the Epidemic Intelligence Service, told him to stay alert and follow his instincts. On February 27, the first day the CDC allowed testing for non-travelers, he sent samples to the lab from two critical patients, suspecting their symptoms were virus indicators. His hunch confirmed the first U.S. originating case of coronavirus and created a domino effect in the nearby Northshore School District. In Northshore, Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid (61) headed a school district of 23,000 students and 2,100 employees. With an academic background in chemistry and science, and a 38-year resume in education, she was acutely aware that schools could contribute to a virus spread. When a district employee reported possible exposure from international travel, Reid convened the school board and employee unions, and then closed the impacted school the For key early next day for cleaning. Six leaders there was days later after two more employee exposures, she zero tolerance closed all schools for two for ageist talk weeks, the first district in the of burdens nation to take such dramatic and/or Gen Z steps. Anticipating the end ridicule about of on-site classes for the Boomer Remover. remainder of the year, the district shifted to remote teaching, setting a precedent as schools across the nation followed suit. When it appeared the pandemic would heavily impact racial and ethnic communities, senior tribal and community leaders took decisive action. The Makah Tribe on Washington’s coast closed its reservation to outsiders, erected checkpoints, and enforced a shelterat-home order with fines. The following week, the Hoh

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“As a 69-year-old myself, I believe 69-year-olds can be productive.” —Gov. Jay Inslee

Governor Jay Inslee at March press conference announcing school closures.

and Quileute Tribes and Quinault Nation also closed their boundaries. Gordon McHenry Jr. (63), CEO of United Way of King County, announced two relief funds to provide food and housing assistance to people in need—in particular, people of color living in poverty, and service industry workers. A Seattle native with a law degree and career in anti-poverty work, McHenry applied pressure on the state to disaggregate COVID data by race or ethnicity, and publicly called out the paucity of funding to

community clinics serving immigrants and the lack of translated information about the virus. C om mu n it y-b a s e d orga nizations led by activist elders also expanded their services. Shamso Issak (58) of Living Well Kent found ways to triple deliveries of food and supplies to needy residents. Sea-Mar Community Health Center established by longtime activist Rogelio Riojas (69) began to translate and disseminate COVID-19 information to the Latino community via YouTube and its weekly radio program. Segregating our elders, Washingtonians over age 60, while the rest of you lived your pre-COVID lives? Bad idea. Such ageist thinking would have denied us all experienced, productive leadership in a time of crisis. And that’s not consistent with any version of humanity. Ann Randall is an independent traveler and writer who loves venturing to out-of-the-way locales from Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe. A former educator, she now observes international elections and does volunteer work in India. Her articles have appeared in online and print publications, and she blogs at PeregrineWoman.com.

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3rd Act magazine | fall 2020

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T Building Resilience BY JOHN C. ROBINSON

his is a difficult time for all of us—sheltering in place, grandchildren struggling with home schooling, worrying about our finances and the future. There’s plenty of pain to go around but there are also so many positive things we can do. As a psychologist, minister, and writer on conscious aging, I see our capacity for positive responding in four dimensions: practical, psychological, spiritual, and the wisdom of the sage. Each dimension holds tools that can empower coping, resilience, creativity, and growth.

The Practical Dimension. First, we need to survive. We need the basics of water, food, shelter, medicine, and safety. We also need an accurate account of what’s happening in the world from week to week to act accordingly. The more we plan in advance for long-term adaptation, the better our chances of survival. Science, technology, and government action are critical, and many strategies are already being implemented as the global drama builds. Most importantly, we need to create functioning and sustainable local systems for providing basic needs. Building meaningful community adds practical support, creative problem solving, and rapid response systems.

The Psychological Dimension. When we lift the lid of our collective denial, the magnitude of our impending trauma can sometimes feel crushing and unbearable. Mounting grief can break our resolve and our spirits, and losing our security, hope, and way of life hurts so much. What we need most in the beginning is mutual support, compassion, and understanding, tenderly holding our shattered and frightened hearts until basic stability returns and healing can begin. We must give our pain time, understanding, and acceptance to move through us. We should not be impatient with our feelings. Keep in mind, too, that coping with the grief of traumatic loss continues for years. The death of a loved one is never really healed, but it can be managed, shared, honored, and made sacred. Dealing with loss is the work of unfinished love and the work of a lifetime.

The Spiritual Dimension. Everyone has personal spiritual beliefs of one sort or another, beliefs about ultimate issues like the meaning of life, the value of love, the nature of suffering, what happens at death, and the transcendent dimension by whatever name. Our ultimate beliefs may be religious, humanistic, scientific, or simply grounded in wonder, awe, and gratitude for our planet’s natural beauty and generosity. Positive and meaningful spiritual beliefs


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can provide hope, comfort, and reassurance in times of hardship or crisis. Readings offer additional comfort, help us bear the unbearable, find new meaning of our struggle, and provide hope for the future. When combined with spiritual practices such as prayer, contemplation, meditation, ritual, and fasting, spirituality deepens our connection with the divine and its loving presence in our lives. With this heartfelt connection to the sacred, we experience religious truths for ourselves and kindle new depths of love and compassion.

The Wisdom of the Sage. As we grow older, we integrate our life experience, practical survival skills, evolving self, and psychological and spiritual resources to nourish the wisdom of the sage—one who can stand in the fire, stay focused, and provide meaningful and inspiring leadership. We find the authority of the moral voice, a voice that speaks for humanity, all sentient beings, and future I see our capacity generations. We use the practical savvy acquired for positive in 60, 70, 80 or more responding in years of life to approach four dimensions: problems from a smarter perspective. Review the practical, most important lessons learned in your life and psychological, use them to create spiritual, and your most mature and the wisdom of loving self, a self who can act with compassion, the sage. Each and wisdom in a dimension holds bravery, chaotic world.

tools that can empower coping, resilience, creativity, and growth.

Skills for Increasing Resilience. The goal

of conscious aging is to transform our theoretical understanding of the four dimensions into genuine personal growth, increased resilience, and greater stability to cope with the coming storm. Below are some ways for coping with overwhelming emotions, managing sad or depressed feelings, cultivating personal growth, and inspiring the healing grace of gratitude. Some items may repeat across dimensions because of their importance. These behaviors will empower your resilience and your resolve.

Aging with Confidence

Coping with Overwhelming Emotions. While these suggestions may seem obvious and simplistic, together they build a solid framework of resilience and they make a difference. As you read them, make a check mark beside the behaviors you already do, circle others that might be good for you, and develop a plan for stronger coping. ❯ Exercise: Build an exercise routine as exercise always helps with stress. ❯ Express your feelings: Talk with friends, find or start a support group, write in your journal, cry, be mad or sad, express yourself in art and poetry. Don’t bottle up emotions. ❯ Use spiritual practices: Consider yoga, tai chi, meditation, contemplation, positive affirmations, and prayer to stay calm and centered. ❯ Educate yourself: New information brings new ideas, resources, and coping strategies. ❯ Do activities that feel normal: This may include reading, playing with pets, cleaning your house, or gardening. These activities will return a bit of sanity to everyday life. ❯ Be sure to have music in your life: Sing out loud, dance in your living room, play an instrument. Music is good for the soul. ❯ Get enough sleep: Naps are also great sources of rest, stress relief, and healing. ❯ Connect everyday with nature: Walks, gardening, or animal watching can reconnect you with Creation and she will inspire you with her amazing diversity, creativity, and peace. Looking back over your checks and circles, what do you notice? What activities have been most helpful? What else might you do? Write three positive resolutions for change. Repeat this checklist the next time you feel overwhelmed by emotion.

Managing Sad or Depressed Feelings. Here is a short list of do’s and don’ts for coping with sad or depressed feelings. Check the items most important to you. Do … ❯ Make a list of pleasant events: These are the things you like to do and do one or more every day. ❯ Talk regularly about feelings with family, friends, neighbors, or caregivers: This will relieve sadness and deepens community. ❯ Participate in a church, synagogue or mosque: Spiritual community can relieve loneliness and return meaning to life. (CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE)

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❯ Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Eat balanced meals, get

enough sleep, and exercise regularly. ❯ Find a fun or interesting new hobby: You might discover that it ends up helping the world. ❯ Read inspirational books: Keep looking for helpful and enlightening ideas through reading. ❯ Practice empathy and love for others: You will feel useful and love ends up going both ways. ❯ Know when you need professional help and get it: At some point in life, there may be a need for therapy; it’s no different than going to the doctor for a medical issue. Don’t… ❯ Isolate yourself physically or psychologically: It reinforces feelings of loneliness and despair. ❯ Dwell constantly on negative thoughts and feelings: Such thoughts and feelings will take you farther down. ❯ Medicate feelings: With alcohol or drugs or cope with stress with cigarettes, caffeine, or binge/boredom eating. ❯ Lose yourself in self-isolating video games: Doing so can deepen aloneness, which deepens depression. ❯ Believe strange conspiracy theories or join hateful organizations: Remember, you have enough challenges without invented ones. ❯ Take out your feelings on those around you: This will generate more hurt and distance. ❯ Give up hope: It is the heartbeat of life. ❯ Be critical of yourself or give up: You don’t have to be perfect—good enough is good enough.

Review your checked items. Add new ones. Think about how to increase the do’s and decrease the don’ts. Make a chart and keep track of your success.

Cultivating Personal Growth and Creativity. This is not the time to let personal growth and creativity stagnate. Here is a list of activities that will rejuvenate you, awaken your creative resources, and help grow into a more enlightened person—even while sheltering in place. ❯ Learn something new: What have you always wanted to understand? ❯ Challenge yourself to be the “best you” in a difficult situation: Describe that self in action. ❯ Pursue distance learning with online courses, visit virtual museums, try online travel to interesting places: Learning new things stimulates both intellect and soul. ❯ Read a self-help book on health, personal growth, or spirituality: Make a note of the advice you found most helpful and how you might use it in the future. ❯ Write letters to people and tell them what they mean


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to you: Old-fashioned letters are such a welcome surprise for everyone. ❯ Reach out, help someone, or volunteer for a good cause: Helping always helps the helper. ❯ Engage in group problem solving: This builds community, improves creativity, and provides better solutions and greater commitment to follow-through. ❯ Create art, music, poetry, dance, or new meal recipes: Creativity awakens the true self and brings new energies for life.

Take one item and write about it. Discover its personal value and teaching. There is so much personal growth material here, you may be amazed by what you discover.

Practice Gratitude. Our experience of life is

profoundly influenced by positive or negative attitudes. An “attitude of gratitude” releases toxic emotional patterns, changes our brains circuity and hormones, and creates positive expectations that inspire new behaviors. To start this practice, think of three adjectives that express your present mood and then write responses to each. Take your time and go deep with your answers. Then consider the following: • Identify three things you feel grateful for. • Identify three things you appreciate about yourself. • Identify three people you appreciate in your life. • Identify three things about the Earth that you feel grateful for. When you’re done with these exercises, find three more adjectives that describe your mood. What do you notice? From this experience, write a couple positive mantras to repeat during the day to enhance your mood. Through simple skills and practices, we can learn to cope with overwhelming emotions, reduce sadness and depression, cultivate personal growth and creativity, and trade fear for gratitude. Return to these skills whenever you feel stuck and become your own best friend, therapist, and coach. Stay positive and be sure to applaud your own progress. And remember, we are all in this together and we don’t know what’s going to happen, so let’s share our resilience, courage, creativity, and growth as we find new paths through this uncharted landscape. In our resilience we plant the seeds of positive change for our Earth and the world. John Robinson is a clinical psychologist, author of 10 books and a frequent speaker at Conscious Aging conferences across the country. His new book, Aging with Vision, Hope and Courage in a Time of Crisis, focuses on the psychological, spiritual, and mystical growth necessary to confront humanity’s greatest existential threat. Learn more about John’s work at www.johnrobinson.org and www.resilience-books.com.


Aging Well in America NCOA Photo contest winners chosen for artistic and dignified portraits of older adults

First Place Winner A Loving Touch by Allan Mestel

Second Place Winner Grandma Quality Time by Michael Paras

Merit Award Bread Baker by Michael Paras

Aging with Confidence

For its 2020 Age+Action Virtual Conference, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) invited photographers and artists from around the country to submit work exploring the artistic expression of Aging Well for All—how older adults are making the most of their longevity. “The winning entries beautifully showcase the richness of aging well in America,” said Ken Bracht, NCOA chief marketing and business development officer. “The judges were amazed by the quality of all submissions—totaling more than 1,000 images—from both award-winning professionals and selftaught photographers.” The winning photographs and artists were announced at NCOA’s 2020 Age+Action Virtual Conference, June 8-11, the first national gathering of aging services professionals in the COVID-19 era. The four-day online event featured more than 150 speakers and 100+ sessions designed to help community-based organizations better serve older adults. First Place went to A Loving Touch, submitted by Allan Mestel of Longboat Key, FL. The black-and-white photo features an older interracial couple in an intimate moment. “The judges chose this photo because of its artistry, poignancy, sensitivity, and dignity,” Bracht said. “I’m stunned I won first place,” said Mestel. Second Place was awarded to Grandma Quality Time from Michael Paras of Maplewood, NJ. It’s a Norman Rockwell scene of a wide-eyed toddler and her grandmother enjoying a chocolate shake and one other. The Merit and Honorable Mention awards include photos of older adults of all races and backgrounds. You can view the complete NCOA online gallery of all selected photographs and artists at http://ncoagallery.org/ link/AgingWellforAll.

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Trying to figure out what matters? Don’t know who or what to believe but eager to find solid ground in these blustery times? Here is an instruction manual for Do-It-Yourself What Matters constructs that can be built anywhere, anytime, if you have the will and the want. 1. QUESTION THE SOURCE, NOT THE MESSENGER. It may be your

coworker, brother-in-law, your barista or a gym buddy who heard something somewhere and takes it for fact. Or it is posted on social media or a news outlet. Wonder where and how that source uncovered the data or talking point. What you are questioning is the authority of information, not the person delivering


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it. When we question, we are on a mission for a more intentionally thoughtful society. Practice: Wondering does not require action. But in order to practice this step, find one source directly involved with this issue. Start with the website and read “About Us” or “Mission;” look at the Board of Directors. If it is a nonprofit, who are its big donors? Pitfalls: Once started, it is hard to stop yourself. But know this—disinformation, or intentionally inaccurate information, often resides on websites that look as legitimate as the real thing. Here’s a tip: The bogus sites are very hard to detect even for the pros. So be wary, you have been forewarned, and be patient with yourself.

2. TRIANGULATE. In order to have

a leg to stand on in these sands, you must practice your mad skills of questioning the source on at least two, if not three, sources. Tip: Ideally these sources will not be referenced by each other, which defeats the purpose. Practice: This one is tricky. Think of it this way—learning in the 20th Century was about answering the question; learning in the 21st Century is about questioning the answer. We have to give up the notion of the one, precise, correct, irrefutable answer but rather two or three solid perspectives on a viable answer to any issue. You will get there only by triangulating your findings. www.3rdActMag.com

Pitfalls: Here is where an open mind is required. Learning that the big, bad corporation did something that is the folly for a perfect viral moment may have you asking who shot the video, who disseminated it and what was the motivation. Time and again, your preconceived notions may be doomed, and you find yourself in an untenable position of defending the machine rather than raging against it. 3. BREATHE. One aspect of our

constant comment and viral videofocused society is that reflection is cast to the wind. Case in point: we have an upcoming national election and when those inevitable scandals are revealed, it will seem to this professional detector that we do not have all the information and that it might take days or, the horror, weeks for relevant details to emerge. So judgment, opinion, and comment should be tabled for a time. When it is hard to believe something and you start to think that you do not have all the information, you will most likely be correct. Take a breath, develop the vocabulary of, “Something just seems like we are not getting the whole story yet. I think I will sit this one out and see how it unfolds.” As poet Gwendolyn Brooks wrote of social activist Jane Addams, “Go ahead and live your life. You might be surprised. The world might continue.” Go ahead and step back from the fray. Practice: Having a language of questioning and curiosity, you will find that it starts to feel natural to you to take that step back. You might unintentionally model through learned

behaviors as they become familiar and comfortable. Tip: Do it respectfully— we are all figuring this out. Pitfalls: Muscle memory will develop, habits of mind will form, and you will need to make choices about what matters. We are flooded with information. It is up to you to create the context around it or not. What matters is a personal question: What is meaningful to you and what is not? And what do you think and feel about that? Yes, you are learning about what it means to live in an information society but what you learn about yourself might be more than you intended—not exactly a pitfall unless you know how to avoid the quicksand.



At this point you may be wondering why you should believe me. Oh, stop it, you make me so proud, you intellectually curious thinker, you. With an academic background in anthropology (our cultural lens), library science (how we engage with information in society) and educational psychology, (how we think and how we learn), this advice is on firm ground. But please, look up my writing, and many others, search information literacy, learning in the 21st Century, and information fluency. Those of us in the information professions believe there is an art and a science to contemplating big ideas and issues of our times, in separating the wheat from the chaff. The good news for you is that the mindset that you need is based on learned behaviors and these three simple steps are a good start to having that pesky informed citizenry that is so necessary for a democratic society. Gail Bush is professor emeritus of education, college trustee and former librarian. Her most recent publication is Our World is Whole (Sleeping Bear Press, 2020). She is the co-editor of Indivisible: Poems for Social Justice (Norwood House Press, 2013). Learn more at www. gailbush.com

Aging with Confidence


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


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Blinded by the

WHITE “Until we are all free, none of us are free.” —Emma Lazarus, 19th century Jewish activist, poet, and author

I have a white life. by Victoria Starr Marshall


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When I look around my community, just about everyone is white like me. When I turn on the TV, most people I see are white like me. In my favorite shows, movies, and novels, virtually all the leading characters are white. All my close friends are white. I attended predominately all-white schools and have lived in primarily all-white neighborhoods my entire life. Race has not been a factor or focus in my life, nor has it impacted me in any meaningful way because I am white. Though I would like to have black and brown friends, I never experienced the absence of diversity in my life as a problem or a loss. Because of this, and the fact that I was raised and socialized in a whitedominant society, I have been able to ignore systemic racism in this country and be blind to the privileges of my whiteness. And I have helped perpetuate racism not by what I have said and done, but by my indifference to it. After bearing witness to George Floyd’s horrific murder and learning about—no, paying attention to—others who’ve been similarly murdered, I can’t shake this feeling of shame. I’m aghast that by simply not paying much attention to racism, I’ve been in tacit collusion. Yet, racism is intersectional with all the -isms I passionately oppose: Sexism, ageism, anti-Semitism, ableism. What I’m beginning to realize—just the barest glimmer of understanding—is the depth to which my distinctly white worldview can blind me to the insidiousness of white supremacy in our culture and


my own participation in perpetuating it. In her book White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo reminds us that, “Whites control all major institutions of society and set the policies and practices that others must live by.” And that, “White supremacy is more than the idea that whites are superior to people of color: it is the deeper premise that supports this idea—the definition of whites as the norm or standard for human, and people of color as a deviation from that norm.” Think about how early we, as white children, were socialized to this norm: What color was your “flesh-colored” Crayola crayon when you were a child? What about the color of the bandage your mother put on a skinned knee? In June 2020, BAND-AID® brand announced that they’ve launched a new line of brown- and black-skinned bandages; it’s only taken them 100 years—they invented the (white) “flesh-toned” adhesive strips in 1920. Think about how every American history lesson we had in school was from a white male perspective. The list goes on. Being white for us is just, well, normal. So how can we possibly have any insight to what it’s like to be Black or Brown in America? We can’t. Capturing this moment and movement in the magazine is important and my first inclination was to reach out to the few Black writers I know for their perspective and help. I was looking for a commanding Black voice to write a perspective piece for me. Seems to be a too common ask—white people asking Black people to tell them what to do or how to help. “You just want me to give you five things you can do so you can feel better,” replied Seattle artist and writer Barbara Earl Thomas. “Ouch,” I think to myself, the truth of her observation stinging. “Ain’t gonna happen,” she gently chided. Instead, Thomas wants to know how all this is making me feel. When I share that I am sad, angry, anxious, and uncomfortable, she suggests that it might be beneficial for me to sit with the discomfort for a while. “Feeling uncomfortable is new to whites— Blacks always feel that way,” she says. Then another challenge: How did I get to be almost 64 years old and not know what to do or how to talk about race? Thomas urges me to do the work: to start reading, watching, listening, and learning. It’s time to move out of our white comfort zones and do the work to understand systemic racism in this country and our part in it. Yes, our part. Until we are willing to understand how we are part of the problem and own it, we will not be able to understand how to be part of the solution. Enough is enough. I am determined to be antiracist. I invite you to join me on this journey. Black Lives Matter.

Aging with Confidence

Interested in better understanding systemic racism in America? Here's where to start: BOOKS • White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

• So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo • How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi • Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in The Story of Race by Debby Irving

FILMS • I’m Not Your Negro (Netflix & Amazon Prime) • 13th (Netflix)

• Selma (Amazon Prime) • Cracking the Codes (www.world-trust.org) WEB • Allyship: A guide on how to become a more thoughtful and effective ally. (www. guidetoallyship. com)

• World Trust: Social Justice Equity & Movement Building (www.world-trust.org)

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Social Activism in a Time of Social


Distancing by Sally Fox

ocial activism is for more than the young. Lifetime commitments to peace, social justice, and community don’t fade away when we turn 70 or even 80 years old. Our values remain strong, even as the forms of engagement we choose may change. When COVID-19 forced us to shelter in place, these four elder activists—ages 73 to 89—turned to technology to keep contributing to the activism space. Using the telephone, Zoom, and faceto-face meetings separated by the required six feet of distance, these women continue to serve as mentors and advocates for change in their communities.

Dr. Joye Hardiman Scholar, storyteller, and cultural activist at Ancestral Art Works

Photo by Shauna Bittle/ Evergreen State College

In her new YouTube series, “Let the Ancestors Speak,” Dr. Joye Hardiman stands with her carving of Sankofa, a Ghanaian symbol of a bird that is moving forward and reaching back. The symbol, she notes, illustrates how one must work with the past in order to move ahead. Hardiman is continuing a lifetime path of service, education, support for the community, and travel. Her work taps her knowledge of history, culture, and ancestral origins. After retiring as Executive Director of the Tacoma Campus of Evergreen State College, a position she held


3rd Act magazine | fall 2020

between 1989-2007, Hardiman continued working on temporary assignments. She took her final leave in 2019 to spend much needed time in gratitude, reflection, and relaxation, including a three-month trip to Mexico. While there, she had a vision of how she and her daughter could use their homestead, Hardiman House, to host salons and events. Unfortunately, those plans were put on hold when COVID-19 hit. With spunk and inventiveness, Hardiman pivoted and decided to produce a series of videos based on her house, its artifacts and rooms, and African American history. With her doctorate in Ancient Egyptian literature, eloquence and storytelling skills, Hardiman knew how to make artifacts come alive. Each episode weaves together tales of her family, frank talk about racism, cultural insights, and art history, including items she collected during her many trips to Africa. At age 76, Hardiman’s gifts now shine before an audience that extends far beyond her Tacoma neighborhood. www.3rdActMag.com

Frances Carr Diversity expert, board member, social justice champion Frances Carr is a community citizen advocate who in the 1970s helped found Seattle’s first women-owned bank, Sound Savings and Loan. Later she served as director of diversity for Washington State’s Department of Social and Health Services. She’s been a lifetime advocate for equality, equity, fairness, social justice, faith, diversity, and community capacity-building. Not surprisingly, as conversations about systemic racism gained momentum in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, people turned to Carr for her elder perspective on diversity, inclusion, and how to keep faith in positive social change. While she could do much of her mentoring by phone, she eventually made the leap into the world of online meetings. Guided by her daughter, who helped her to get started with Zoom, Carr stayed connected to the “Encounter Group” within her church that has been exploring the relationship between social issues and the Bible. The group was formed at Seattle’s First African Methodist Episcopal

Anne Stadler Advocate for peace, community, and social justice Anne Stadler has spent all her adult life working for peace, against racism, and to build communities where people can come together in love and respect. In the 1960s, Stadler and her husband David created a peace organization that later became World Without War Council, an organization

Church 50 years ago and is still going strong. As tragic events related to racism and police brutality swept the news, church members used Zoom to have much needed conversations about justice and faith. Now comfortable with the technology, Carr uses it to hold family meetings, celebrate birthdays, and speak with her grandchildren about how to prepare for today’s challenges.

she directed for seven years. Stadler’s skills in mobilizing community and connecting people were so strong that KING-TV recruited her to become a producer of the program, “People Power.” For 17 years, she produced programs that highlighted important community issues. Although her work has taken her repeatedly to India and other countries around the globe, Stadler believes that, “The work always starts in my front yard.” She coaches friends and mentees to attend to their inner lives, listen to what they love and calls them, and take responsibility for living from that place. In the early 1990s, Stadler was a pioneer in the uses of “Open Space Technology” to help people self-organize meetings and conversations around what is most important to them. When social distancing put face-to-face meetings on hold, Stadler jumped into Zoom and discovered how online technology, with facilitation, could provide a platform for deep conversation and intimacy between participants across continents. Now online community building has become another of her passions. Sought for her wisdom around fostering compassionate communities, Stadler, at 89, inspires with her drive for lifelong learning.

Photo by Aaron Stadler

Aging with Confidence

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Susan Partnow Citizen diplomat, facilitator, and compassionate listening teacher When Susan Partnow had knee replacement surgery last year, at age 72, she discovered that by using emerging online meeting technology, she could offer classes on compassionate listening, her longtime passion. An organizational consultant, Partnow embraced how the Zoom platform allowed her to teach at home, while reaching potential participants who were feeling isolated or might have trouble traveling to Seattle for classes. Using Zoom, she also connected with an international community of spiritual activists dedicated to consciousness change. By the time COVID-19 hit, Partnow was a pro at using meeting technology and could offer classes on facilitating meetings online. For years Partnow led Global Citizen Journey delegations around the world as part of her commitment to citizen diplomacy. The pandemic and family health issues have limited her travel, but she’s as busy as ever with initiatives to shift the world toward more love, generosity, and compassion.

We're there in this moment.

And every moment. 46

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Like Stadler, Partnow believes in healing the world from the inside out and sees her activism as part of her spiritual practice. She may have slowed down physically from where she was 20 years ago, but her engagement as an activist is as strong as ever. These four women model social engagement, abundant curiosity, and desire to continually learn. As elders, they understand that social change requires perseverance, perspective, and a positive spirit. As Hardiman says, “I believe in the reciprocal nature of the universe. You put good things out and good things will come back to you.�

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If you’ve been hesitant to connect and learn online, now is a great time to start. When last spring’s stay-at-home orders curtailed face-to-face meetings, many of us finally made the jump over a few small technology hurdles to connect with people and resources online. Unable to attend events, we learned how to visit the great museums of the world, attend lectures, and listen to musicians offer house concerts, all from the comfort of a favorite chair. We attended webinars, took courses, and downloaded a slew of books without leaving home. If you’ve been reluctant to make the leap, you may be lacking a reason big enough to warrant the potential hassle of using Zoom or downloading a library book. Fortunately, there’s help. FIND YOUR BIG REASON Forced to stay at home during the pandemic, I kept uncovering reasons to connect online: events, concerts, webinars, classes, and virtual meetings over coffee with friends. The Zoom-based wedding I attended celebrated a couple sharing their love in difficult times. Four hundred guests from around the world posted “Mazel Tov” and “Congratulations!” in the “chat box” throughout the event. Being online didn’t diminish the tears and Aging with Confidence


laughter visible onscreen. When a friend couldn’t fly to her beloved grandmother’s funeral, she created an online memorial service and invited friends from miles away to join her. When my granddaughter missed marching down the aisle for her high school graduation, her family made up for it with an online celebration that included family on both coasts of the country. Once you have a big reason to use the technology, like seeing your grandchild, a wide array of resources is ready to help you connect. TAP THE RESOURCES Not sure where to start? Ask your neighbor for assistance or call your local library’s help desk. In the Seattle area, the King County Public Library’s help desk can help you launch Zoom, download an e-book, or refer you to technical help within the library

system. If you’re already online, you’ll find virtual technology support classes (try Seniorplanet.org.) Your local senior center may offer support for technology-shy seniors. You can hire a tech consultant who specializes in seniors or, if you’re lucky, find a “digital native” like your grandchild. BE PREPARED FOR GLITCHES Frustration is natural when things go wrong. For example, you can’t dial in for an important event. You lose your password. Your screen freezes. The instructions you have were written by aliens. Don’t melt. We’ve all been there! Remember, it’s just technology. Take a breath and know that with a little help you’ll solve the problem, if not today, tomorrow. These glitches are a small entrance fee to a world of almost infinite resources. ENJOY AND EXPLORE Once we uncover treasures online, we have a reason to keep exploring. Besides, learning, even if frustrating, is great for our brains. When I saw the beaming smile on my granddaughter’s face, I had all the incentive I needed to ask, “How can I connect next?” Sally Fox, owner of Engaging Presence, is a coach and writer who helps individuals develop and craft compelling stories. She writes about following your creative calling after midlife. Find her blog at www.engagingpresence.com and listen to her podcasts at www.3rdActMagazine.com.

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Scott Freeman and Susan Leopold Freeman


ACTIVIST About three years ago I decided to retire early from my job teaching biology at the University of Washington. I had a plan: spend part of my time restoring a little salmon stream on Washington state’s BY SCOTT Olympic Peninsula called Tarboo Creek, FREEMAN and part of my time writing about that project, climate change, and environmental ethics. Planting trees and writing—what a great third act. But as a comedian once said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” Not long after I started to put my plans into motion, some Tarboo Creek neighbors told me about an article published in the local newspaper. A company called Fort Discovery, headquartered in a nearby county, was planning to build a private military and paramilitary training complex with seven gun ranges, two helicopter pads, a bunkhouse, lodge, RV compound, and a cluster of cabins on 40 acres of forested land near the creek’s headwaters.


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By then my family and I had been helping with the Tarboo Creek restoration project for more than 12 years. Roughly 1,000 schoolkids had planted trees to reforest the watershed. Dozens of tribes, government agencies, and private nonprofits had contributed funding and expertise, and more than 3,000 acres had been placed under permanent protection. We’d heard high school kids give testimonials, as they headed off to study conservation biology in college, saying that their interest in the planet’s future started when they planted trees along Tarboo Creek. We soon realized, though, that the gun range development was not just a threat to our little stream. The story was much bigger than that. It turned out that this company was moving to Tarboo Creek because they’d been evicted from their previous site, which had been marketed as a “rally point” for “like-minded people” when “all else fails” in Facebook posts and podcasts. During an interview with the company president, one podcast host noted that the Expedition Rifle—an AR-15 manufactured and sold by the organization—comes with a “… specially minted coin that will grant you access to his compound when it hits the fan” and that purchasers also receive “… a lock-sack bag that the rifle fits in so it can be buried www.3rdActMag.com


in a person’s yard … where no one would ever look.” Tarboo Creek was going to be the new rally point. That’s when I heard God chuckle—my plans needed to be redrawn. Who was going to oppose this “vision” for Jefferson County’s future and promote the good and ongoing work to support new family farms, innovative agribusinesses, and next-generation small-scale forestry? Unlike so many rural areas in the U.S., young people were moving into the county, not out. They were attracted by the values that now needed defending, but they were busy organizing their first homes, getting careers going, and starting families. This fight was not for the young— instead, it fell to the elders. Retirement should be a time of engagement, not withdrawal. A large part of my third act has been supporting, and more recently leading, the community group that is opposing Fort Discovery’s plans. Our little band of neighbors has expanded to 600 active supporters. We have held community meetings, submitted petitions with more than 1,100 signatures, exposed illegal activity at the rally point’s new site, and backed the press as they publicized ties between the company and extremist political groups. In response, our organization has been sued and individual board members harassed. And yet, we persist. In late 2018, Jefferson County passed a new ordinance on commercial gun ranges that would have allowed the rally point company to proceed with their plans. We challenged the law and won. In response

to continued community input, the Board of County Commissioners switched course completely and passed an ordinance requiring new commercial gun ranges to be built indoors. For the moment, Tarboo Creek seems safe from the threat of becoming a rally point for anti-government “preppers.” But the work continues. The company is suing the county yet again and recently announced “fully auto extravaganzas,” where members of the general public can shoot military-grade machine guns at their Tarboo Creek location, in defiance of local and state laws. The price of democracy is eternal vigilance. I am, however, still planting trees, and still writing. I just feel more a part of my community than ever before. What a great third act.

(Clockwise from top right): Spawning chum salmon in Tarboo Creek; an old growth Sitka Spruce near the creek; and reforestation along Tarboo Creek.

Aging with Confidence

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Connie Gallant likes to say she learned how to speak English by watching Bonanza. She was born in Cuba, grew up in Boston, and lived in San Diego as a young adult. But she had never seen the wild places of the West up close until the day she and her husband, JD, decided to drive up to an old lodge in the Sierra Nevada, where they had heard there were a few job openings. Gallant remembers getting out of the made-over Air Force bus that was their home-on-wheels and feeling stunned by the beauty of the snowy mountain wilderness. It was “an epiphany of sorts,” she says now. Since that moment, more than four decades ago, her life has never been the same. The Gallants wound up managing the lodge, now known as the Lakeshore Resort, for a year-and-a-half before moving to Quilcene, WA, in the northeast corner of the Olympic Peninsula. They poured their love of the DIY RV lifestyle into a nonprofit called the RV Consumer Group, whose mission is to rate RV safety and give advice to people who are shopping for RVs. This instinct for seeing problems and wanting to solve them began to spill over into their personal lives. They became volunteer monitors of the oxygen levels of Quilcene Bay and Dabob Bay, where the oyster spat industry has grown by leaps and bounds. And Connie Gallant got involved in local politics: For 20 years, she has been the Democratic precinct officer for Quilcene. But it was in 2000, when the U.S. Forest Service announced plans to log Quilcene’s beloved Mt. Walker, that Gallant became a wilderness activist.


3rd Act magazine | fall 2020

She launched a website. She got a call from the Olympic Forest Coalition, who asked her to revamp their site and, in short order, to be on their board. She made phone calls, wrote letters, arranged meetings. Turns out Gallant had a talent for getting local residents, loggers, environmentalists, and politicians to sit down and talk to each other. She persuaded then-Congressman Norm Dicks to take up the cause. Mt. Walker was saved and the Olympic Forest Coalition—OFCO, for short—moved on to many more projects, including the most ambitious and farreaching of them all: The Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild & Scenic Rivers Act. The Wild Olympics campaign was conceived in 2006, when Gallant and OFCO’s then-executive director Bonnie Phillips, brought together some of the older, larger wilderness organizations, including the Sierra Club, the Wilderness Society, American Rivers, and the Pew Charitable Trusts to brainstorm about the need to protect the vulnerable wildlands that surround the Olympic National Park. They knew that buy-in from the timber, fishing, and tourism industries would be essential. Gallant was asked to chair the campaign and, 14 years later, she still does. “We met year after year with folks all over the


Looking north at the Olympic Range from Mount Ellinor. Photo by Victoria Starr Marshall; Below: Connie Gallant. Photo by George Stenberg.

Peninsula,” says Gallant, adding that for the most part, reception to the idea was incredibly positive. “People wanted to protect this little gem in our part of the planet.” Though opponents peppered roads in the area with signs such as “Stop the Wild Olympics Land Grab,” most Olympic Peninsula residents have been supportive. Campaign coalition members now number more than 800 local businesses, conservation, sportsmen and outdoor recreation groups, local elected officials, and community leaders. While she knew it would be a long haul she couldn’t have guessed how long. By the time the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild & Scenic Rivers Act was finally introduced in Congress in late 2019, Norm Dicks had been retired for six years. As of 2013, the peninsula had a new U.S. congressman: Derek Kilmer, who grew up in Port Angeles. Kilmer had many friends in the logging industry, but he was willing to listen to what Gallant and other coalition members had to say. He was moved by her talent for bringing all parties to the table and hammering out details that made sense. No roads were closed and existing recreational uses would be allowed. The forested acres that would be protected were already off-limits to logging. The originally proposed 200,000-plus acres had been strategically trimmed to just over 126,000 acres, with portions of 19 rivers accorded wild and scenic designation. Kilmer agreed to introduce the bill in the House. On February 12, 2020, the Act was passed by the

Aging with Confidence

From Left: Senator Patty Murray, former Congressman Norm Dicks, former Port Townsend Mayor Michelle Sandoval, State Representative Steve Tharinger, and Connie Gallant

House on a 231 to 183 vote as part of a package of bills collectively named the Protecting America’s Wilderness Act, covering 1.37 million acres in Washington, California, and Colorado. Gallant recently quipped that if anyone had told her it would take 14 years, she “would’ve said ‘bye!.” The next step for the Act is to be taken up by the Senate, where a companion bill was introduced

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The Hama Hama River on the Olympic Peninsula.

last year by Senator Patty Murray. However, with all the challenges of 2020, most especially the Covid-19 pandemic, further action will probably be postponed until next year. Making the long haul that much longer. But Senator Murray knows Gallant has no plans to give up. “Connie has been a stalwart champion for protecting Washington state’s wild spaces for current and future generations, and she is an incredible testament to the importance of women’s leadership in the conservation movement,” Murray says. “I have been proud to work with her to advance the Wild Olympics legislation, and I look forward to continuing our work together to get it over the finish line.” Gallant finds inspiration in the stories of three women who came before her: Bonnie Phillips, her mentor at OFCO; Polly Dyer, who had a hand in dozens of wilderness victories, including the National Wilderness Act (1964) and the North Cascades National Park (1968), and was active right up to her death at 94 in 2016; and Rosalie Edge, who campaigned tirelessly in the 1930s for the creation of the Olympic National Park. According to Gallant, one of Edge’s genius ideas was to organize 3,000 local children to line the streets of Port Angeles, waving signs in support of the creation of the national


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park, when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt drove through in 1937. Environmental activism is not for the faint of heart. Over the years, Gallant has been on the receiving end of many nasty letters, emails, and phone calls. Her advice to those who might wish to follow in her footsteps? “Make sure that it’s exactly what you want to get into. That it’s a cause you feel passionate about. And make

sure that you have the time allocated to it. Make sure that your spouse or mate or children, family, are OK with you spending so much time away from family activities,” she says. “Unless of course it’s the type of activity that they’re going to be involved in. And that’s pretty cool.” What’s next for Connie Gallant? In her final years, Polly Dyer frequently implored Gallant “not to forget” about what Dyer felt was a vitally important issue: reintroducing wolves into some of Washington’s wilderness ecosystems. Gallant, who is 72, says she promised Dyer she would try. But she would get help. Because wolf reintroduction is a cause that is definitely going to be “another long game.” Ann Hedreen is a writer, filmmaker, and the author of Her Beautiful Brain, winner of a 2016 Next Generation Indie book award. Ann and her husband, Rustin Thompson, own White Noise Productions and have made more than 150 short films and five feature documentaries together, including Quick Brown Fox: an Alzheimer's Story. Ann has just completed a second memoir called After Ecstasy: Memoir of an Observant Doubter.

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Amid Blight, Life Blooms BY HOLLIS GIAMMATTEO


everal years ago, I almost lost my vision, and after a surgery suggestive of medieval torture, my recovery unfolded in the garden. As my eyes healed and I saw the world through double, sometimes triple, vision, to stay grounded and unafraid I immersed myself in color—the vibrancy of pending leaves (it was spring), splashes of yellow, the bursts of reds and purples. Now hard times are the norm again and it remains a privilege to have a garden to retreat to. There are some hopeful changes in my garden of 20 years. Four peonies added to the collection, an eryngium, lovely but as yet lacking selfesteem, a smattering of vegetables, our slight nod toward self-reliance. But two changes of greater significance stand out at this time. The first is the transformation of the Western Hemlock. Five years into the pleasures and ordeals of making the garden ours, I began to notice wedges of fungi advancing up the trunk. Initially


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thinking them pretty, I came to learn that such a happening indicated our tree to be infected with a rot-inducing pathogen. An arborist’s diagnosis confirmed a 75% infestation and it was declared a hazard. We opted not to cut it down, but rather limb and top it, chiseling what remained with a chain saw so that it would mimic a natural demise. For many years, it would house squirrels and flickers and more life than the eye could see. Last September, it fell over silently and politely, positioning itself between a large container and a lamp post. Its evolution—from graceful, mature tree to rough, dynamic snag to fallen, rotting log— suggested a bit of the life of a forest in our small back yard. Standing, the snag invited observation, as mysteries in the garden are wont to do. What would it support as a ruin? Two flickers explored the potential and progressed comfortably from courtship to nesting to brooding. Finally, we heard babies, a sustained murmuring, which rose over a


brief time, to the Chorus of Adamant Demand. And one day, they were gone. No lead-up. No witnessing of the chicks’ first flights. Simply gone. And then, another morning, I gazed blankly at anomalous, scattered piles and cried out as they snapped into focus. Flicker feathers. Carefully, they were gathered up, brought into the house, sequestered somewhere. But we had loved the flicker family and that our snag had been so well used. And the second? Noticing an intoxicating fragrance on my early morning rounds, I allowed my nose to lead me back to Miss Kim, the Korean lilac. I was especially pleased to see her in full bloom, because last year, at the height of summer, she had succumbed to a bacterial blight. I gave what care I could—raked up the infected leaves, withheld water, monitored. And now here was Miss Kim with fragrant blooms and healthy leaves, grateful. But something else caught my eye. It could not have failed to, as it loomed above Miss Kim. That pile of leaves, gathering itself, last spring, into a pulsing

mound, had exploded into eight towering spikes— foxglove—the tallest at six feet. The spikes were a mass of white, tube-like flowers, freckled inside. I was impressed as this uninvited guest had planted itself beside Miss Kim and they looked convivial together. Foxglove and Kim look a little less fresh today. Her blooms have faded to a dirty cream and there is no more fragrance. The foxglove has broken two spikes and the leaves are tawdry and spotted here and there. I wish it could all stay perfect forever. Does any gardener not inflict on their plants names and personalities, imagined friendships, and behaviors? I accept the invitation to look deeply and extrapolate. “Go ahead,” I say to myself. “Make it personal.” A practicing Buddhist for more than 30 years, Hollis Giammatteo has sought experiences that challenge her practice, from teaching writing to working with the elderly. She co-founded The Wilma Theater in Philadelphia and was a resident playwright for The Rhode Island Feminist Theatre. Hollis has published in a variety of magazines and her memoir, The Shelf Life of Ashes, was released in 2016 by She Writes Press.

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Aging with Confidence

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Even if we’ve had to postpone trips to Europe, I believe a daily dose of travel dreaming can be good medicine. Here’s one of my favorite travel memories—a reminder of what’s waiting for you in Europe at the other end of this crisis. — RICK STEVES

I’m using my quarantine time learning how to cook. One thing is clear: I’m nowhere near as good as the Italians. But I can dream of those “meals of a lifetime” that seem almost routine in Italy. Spending a month in Italy, the thought of eating anything other than Italian food never occurs to me. Other than France, I doubt there’s another country in Europe that could hold my palate’s interest so completely. One reason I don’t tire of going local here is that this land of a thousand bell towers is also the land of a thousand regional cuisines. And I celebrate each region’s forte. Tuscany is proud of its beef, so I seek out a place to sink my teeth into a carnivore’s dream. My favorite steakhouse is in Montepulciano. The scene in a stony cellar, under one long, rustic vault, is powered by an open fire in the far back. Flickering in front of the flames is a gurney, upon which lays a hunk of beef the size of a small human. Like a seasoned


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blacksmith, Giulio—a lanky, George Carlin look-alike in a T-shirt—hacks at the beef, lopping off a steak every few minutes. He gets an order and then it’s whop! … leave it to cleaver. In a kind of mouthwatering tango, he prances past boisterous tables of eaters, holding above the commotion the raw slabs of beef on butcher paper. Giulio presents the slabs to my friends and me, telling us the weight and price and getting our permission to cook it. He then dances back to the inferno and cooks the slabs: seven minutes on one side, seven on the other. There’s no asking how you’d like it done; this is the way it is done. Fifteen minutes later, we get our steaks. In Italy, the cuisine is revered—and the quality of the ingredients is sacred. Italians like to say, “La miglior cucina comincia dal mercato”—“The best cuisine starts from the market.” They care deeply about what’s in season. One night in Florence, I’m dining with my friend Cincia


THE ITALIAN LOVE OF EATING by Rick Steves at her favorite trattoria when the chef comes out to chat with her. They get into an animated debate about the ingredients: “Arugula is not yet in season. But oh, Signora Maria has more sun in her backyard, and her chickens give her a marvelous fertilizer.” Then the topic changes to the cuisine turmoil caused by erratic weather. Vignarola, the beloved stew consisting of artichokes, peas, and fava beans, is on the menu before its normal season. Cincia, seeming traumatized, says, “Vignarola, how can it be served so early? I’ve never seen it on a menu before Easter.” The chef, who only makes it for a few weeks each spring during a perfect storm of seasonality when everything is bursting with flavor, has to convince her that the season has changed and it’s on the menu because this is the new season. Enjoying the commotion, I explain to Cincia that this is the kind of restaurant I seek out in Italy. It ticks all the boxes:

Aging with Confidence

It’s personality-driven—a mom-and-pop place—and run by people enthusiastic about sharing their love of good cooking. It’s a low-rent location, with lots of locals. The menu is small because they’re selling everything they’re cooking. It’s in one language, Italian, because they cater to locals rather than tourists. And it’s handwritten because it’s shaped by what’s fresh in the market today. Cincia then takes control, telling me to put away my notepad and stop being a travel writer. She says, “Only a tourist would rush a grappa or pull the fat off the prosciutto. Tonight, we eat with no notes. We eat my way.” Reviewing the options, she says to the chef simply, “Mi faccia felice” (“Make me happy”). And he does. Rick Steves (www.ricksteves.com) writes European travel guidebooks and hosts travel shows on public television and public radio. This story is excerpted For the Love of Europe, a collection of 100 favorite memories from a lifetime of European travel. Email him at rick@ricksteves.com and follow his blog on Facebook.

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Easy Ways to

Brown Butter and Sage Sauce

Bring Italy to Your Kitchen

Once you know how to make this you will find lots of place to use it—over fish, roasted chicken, or vegetables such as asparagus, cauliflower, or broccoli. It goes over all kinds of pasta and is terrific on mashed potatoes.


Ingredients: • 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)

Reading Rick Steves’ reverie about Italy and the travel that was and will come again brings up the signature foods that say Italy to most of us: pasta and tomatoes! That’s perfect for this time of year when the bounty of late summer tempts us with possibility and potential. Even non-gardeners might have succumbed to growing at least one tomato plant on their porch or deck. From large Beefsteaks to the full spectrum of cherry tomatoes, this is the time to harvest and use fresh tomatoes. It’s also the time to choose among the many ways to preserve them for the coming months. Nothing will remind us of summer more than the tomatoes we “put up” for use when the temperatures drop and the skies are grey. For this issue spanning the gilded days of late summer to the darkening days of fall, I offer three approaches for bringing Italy to your table. First, a quick uncooked tomato sauce—Salsa Cruda—to toss with hot pasta. Next, a no-fail approach to slow roasting tomatoes that you will always want in your refrigerator, and finally, a brown butter with sage sauce to use with some of the excellent Italian fresh raviolis available from grocery stores like Trader Joes, Costco, and PCC. Buon Appetito!

• 1 clove garlic (crushed and chopped) • 1/4 cup sage leaves (coarsely chopped) • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper Directions: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan set over low-medium heat. When the butter begins to get just slightly bubbly, add the chopped garlic clove. Stir the garlic in the butter for 1 minute. Add the chopped sage to the garlic butter and continue stirring and cooking the mixture for 1 to 2 additional minutes, until the butter has turned very light brown and has a rich, nutty aroma. Season the sage sauce with ground black pepper. Makes enough for one pound of pasta. Serves 4-6. Notes: • When buying or picking fresh sage, check to make sure the leaves are aromatic and have no soft spots or dry edges. • To store fresh sage, wrap the sage leaves in paper towels and put them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Plan to use the leaves within four to five days. Fresh leaves that are covered in olive oil can be stored for much longer in the refrigerator— about three weeks.


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Slow Roasted Tomatoes I read about this way of roasting tomatoes in A Homemade Life, a terrific food memoir by Molly Wizenberg. Again, you can choose how much spice you want to use. Tip: Use the sugar since it will enhance the flavor. Wizenberg suggests using Roma tomatoes as they are dense and not so juicy and available yearround. But you can use any tomatoes you want, just check them after a few hours to see how they are doing. This recipe will give you enough to try them in a variety of ways. Of course you can double the recipe and use more baking sheets. Ingredients: • 3 ½ lbs. Roma tomatoes (about 20) or other medium size tomatoes • 1-3 tablespoons olive oil • Salt • Any or all of the below: Ground coriander, sumac, dried oregano (about 1 teaspoon of each) • 1 tablespoon sugar Directions: Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Wash and dry tomatoes. Trim off stem ends and cut in half. Place in a large bowl with oil, sugar, and spices, and toss them gently with your hands to coat them all. Place them cut side up on a baking sheet covered with either foil or parchment, which makes clean up really easy! Bake in oven for 4-6 hours. Remove from oven and let cool. They can be refrigerated for up to one week.

Fresh Tomato Sauce for Pasta— Salsa Cruda This recipe represents my approach to cooking. The basic process is what you need to know and the ingredients reflect your particular taste profile. It is a perfect example of how to think about ingredients and flavors. The basic ingredients are obvious and wonderful: the freshest tomatoes possible, fresh basil, high-quality olive oil, Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese, and good pasta. I offer other options below to try as you are either tempted or wanting to experiment. Ingredients: • 1 pound pasta. Some recipes call for large shapes such as rigatoni, ziti, or fusilli, while others specify angel hair pasta. Yet again, a matter of choice. • ¼ teaspoon salt, plus more for the pasta cooking water • 4 cups halved, vine-ripened cherry tomatoes; they come in many colors, each with its own unique flavor. • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil • 10 fresh basil leaves, finely shredded

Other ingredients to add to tomato mixture, according to taste: • ½ cup flavorful pitted olives (I like kalamata), lightly chopped • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint • 2 tablespoons capers • 1 clove garlic, smashed • 1 teaspoon orange zest Directions: In a large serving bowl toss the tomatoes with the oil, crushed red pepper, and other ingredients you decide to use. Let the tomato mixture marinate at room temperature for at least 20 minutes—even several hours— tossing occasionally. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Stir the pasta into the boiling water. When the water returns to a boil, uncover the pot. Cook the pasta, stirring occasionally, until al dente, following package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta well. Stir the reserved water into the tomatoes. Add the pasta and toss. Add the Pecorino or Parmesan, toss again and serve. Serves 6.

• ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper Aging with Confidence

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As I write this, the COVID-19 pandemic has darkened the lights of our local theaters and other arts institutions and restricted other mass public gatherings. But until we are able to attend concerts, plays, and museum shows in person again, we rely on our electronic streaming devices for arts and entertainment. And the options are bountiful. They include periodic “live” performances presented by such local arts purveyors as the Seattle Symphony, Earshot Jazz, and Seattle Shakespeare Company, all of which can be piped into your computer or TV screen via the web. And it is also a great time to catch up on movies available through such streaming services as Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Hulu that offer a virtual tour of Seattle and environs, past and present. So how about a “Made in Seattle” film festival of features shot in and near our changing city over the past several decades? So settle in with a large bowl of popcorn and take in some movies in which Seattle plays a costarring role.

he and his buddy lose big in Las Vegas. There’s a love interest for the singer (of course) and a couple of far-fetched plot lines involving a smuggling gang and a cute little girl whose father has disappeared. And there are plenty of musical numbers and shots of the newly erected Space Needle. The movie crew spent only a week on location in Seattle before completing the shooting in Hollywood, but it really is Elvis up there mingling with the fair crowd and riding the Monorail.

Cinderella Liberty (1973) Shot entirely in Seattle, this is the low-key tale of a sailor, played by James Caan, who winds up on extended leave in the unglamorized parts of the port city and falls in love with a prostitute, played by Marsha Mason, who sports, what else, a heart of gold. The movie affords a kind of tour of the working harbor on Elliott Bay, with the sailor arriving at Harbor Island, hanging out with his

It Happened at the World’s Fair (1963) The 12th film starring Elvis Presley, this one is a typically hokey musical comedy set against the


1962 Seattle Century 21 Exposition—better known as the Seattle World’s Fair. Elvis plays a crop duster pilot who hitchhikes to the city in search of work after

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girlfriend’s son at Gas Works Park, hopping a ferry (the MV Spokane) and spending time at the now-defunct Fun Forest Amusement Park at the Seattle Center.

Frances (1982) Frances Farmer was a beautiful, fiercely independent, Seattle-bred actress who embarked on a promising film career in the 1930s, which was later tragically derailed by mental illness. Jessica Lange gives a bravura performance in this semi-biographical portrait of Farmer (based in part on her memoir, Will There Really Be a Morning?). It ranges from her teenage years attending University of Washington, to her work on Broadway with the radical Group Theatre in New York City and an unsatisfying tenure in Hollywood. Frances sympathetically but graphically dramatizes Farmer’s struggles with alcoholism, erratic behavior


and maltreated clinical depression, which resulted in arrests and time spent in mental institutions, including a lengthy stint at Western State Hospital in Steilacoom, Wash. Some Seattle scenes were shot in Discovery Park, West Seattle and at the Paramount Theatre.

The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989) This underappreciated gem focuses on two piano-playing brothers whose close relationship is impacted by the addition of a female singer to their longtime lounge act. The film gained veracity by casting two excellent sibling actors, Jeff Bridges and

you’ll recognize Pike Place Market, Ivan’s Fish Bar at Pier 52, and several downtown hotels.

Singles (1992) An affectionate valentine to the early 1990s grungerock scene, before it became a more commercial national phenom, this study of several young Seattle dwellers looking for love is quite a charmer. And it’s a slice of youth nostalgia too, back when apartments on Capitol Hill were cheap and the tech-boom was in its infancy. The cast includes such attractive up-and-comers as Bridget Fonda, Matt Dillon and Kyra Sedgwick. Director Cameron Crowe established a laid-back vibe and filmed much of the tale in Seattle, with scenes at such landmarks as the Cinerama, the Fremont Bridge, Post Alley, and the Montlake Cut.

Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

Beau Bridges, as the brothers. And it is also an excellent showcase for a young Michelle Pfeiffer, whose jaded yet vulnerable turn as the interloping female singer helped propel her to stardom. Many of the film’s exteriors were shot in an ungentrified, bluesy-moody Belltown. Look closely and

One of the most popular movies associated with our fair city, this two-track romance unfolds in Manhattan (where the character played by Meg Ryan resides) and Seattle, where widower and single father (Tom Hanks) calls a picturesque houseboat on Lake Union home. Alas, relatively few scenes in the beguiling story were actually filmed here. There’s enough, however, to give you the flavor of Seattle in shots of Alki Beach, the venerable Athenian Inn at

the Pike Place Market, and Sea-Tac Airport. Fun fact: When the couple flirting from afar finally meet in person at the Empire State Building, they’re actually standing on a replica of the observation deck constructed in a hangar at Magnuson Park.

Humpday (2009) and Laggies (2014) Though in recent years many of the Seattle settings in movies and television series have largely been shot in Vancouver, B.C., and elsewhere, one filmmaker remained fiercely loyal to her hometown. That was Lynn Shelton, whose natural, gently astute and humorous ensemble movies pay homage to many Western Washington locales. In Humpday the late Shelton (who passed away suddenly, at age 54, in May 2020) focused on two heterosexual male friends who spontaneously decide to make an arty gay porn film starring themselves— a project that tests their friendship and one man’s relationship with his wife, as well as raising comical, insightful questions about masculinity. The “microbudget,” partially improvised indie film was shot mainly in Ballard and became a breakthrough for Shelton when screened at Sundance Film Festival. Though she began scoring television directing assignments, Shelton also kept working in Seattle and in 2014, came out with

Laggies. It’s a genial, sweetnatured take on a woman in her late 20s (played by British star Keira Knightley) who keeps postponing growing up by delaying her wedding, blowing off career ambitions and hanging out with teenage friends—until adulthood sneaks up on her. You’ll spot many familiar Seattle haunts in Laggies, including Northgate Mall, Chihuly Garden and Glass at the Seattle Center, Lake Union and the Dick’s Drive-In on Holman Road. Additional movies with Seattle backgrounds worth checking out include Five Easy Pieces, House of Games, Say Anything, and The Ring, among others. Misha Berson writes about the arts for The Seattle Times and many other publications, and is the author of four books, including Something’s Coming, Something Good: West Side Story and the American Imagination (Applause/ Hal Leonard).

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A Grandparent’s Wisdom for a Happy Life BY CHARLES JOHNSON


hen Charles “Chuck” Johnson called me to tell me that his Fall 2018 3rd Act essay “Advice to Emery” was the inspiration for a new, upcoming book, I was elated. His original essay is a heartfelt gem of life lessons that Johnson gifts to his grandson, and to us. “Looking at the problems I see in the world around me,” he writes in the essay, “I realize that there are so many things I want to say to him (Emery) about the goodness, truth, and beauty that life offers. And I want to warn him about the dangers, too, all the minefields I feel he should stay away from in order to know happiness and avoid unnecessary suffering.” Johnson continues: “As I think about all I might say, I suspect that the highlights I’ve learned from circling the sun 70 times can be reduced to 10 simple ideas.” Grand expands on these 10 ideas as Johnson, a professor emeritus, award-winning novelist, philosopher, and Buddhist masterfully weaves his wisdom of years into warm and generous advice. Chapter 2—each chapter represents one of the 10 ideas—is titled, “Life is not Personal, Permanent, or Perfect,” wise words to help our grandchildren Charles Johnson and Emery navigate life and, for us, to navigate these COVID-19 times. Johnson writes, “Just as his circumstances must change during his life, so must Emery understand that he can always change his life


(Puzzles on page 64)


3rd Act magazine | fall 2020

Geographical Double-Entendres 1. Plains 2. Cork 3. Needles 4. Sisters 5. Limerick 6. Sandwich 7. Snake 8. Christmas 9. Truth or Consequences 10. Bologna

to fit new circumstances and reinvent himself.” And I love the example Johnson gives: “There is a time-honored word for this flexibility in life: Jazz. That unique contribution to American music and culture contains, in theory and practice, the importance of improvisation …” With the changes and challenges thrust upon us these last months, we are all needing to do more improvising right now, and I can’t think of a more positive way to frame a response than living a Jazz moment. Grand was written before the coronavirus pandemic. In his recent interview with Peter Kelley in UW News, Johnson shares, “The advice about how to deal with change, loss, and impermanence in the 10 items I compiled for my grandson is something we are right now experiencing palpably. The specter of death and disease, and our fragility as well as resilience as human beings, is dramatically on display every day.” In Grand, Johnson reminds Emery that, “What we know is always vastly outweighed by what we don’t know and may never know, and we really do live our lives in the midst of great mysteries.”

Word Play 1. The crossword puzzle 2. Friday 3. A telephone 4. Edam 5. Lounger 6. Growing older

Odd Man Out 1. Truman—the others were Republicans. 2. Clog—the others are types of hats. 3. Eyeglasses—the others have buttons. 4. Left Bank—the other places are in London. 5. Canary Islands—the others are islands in the Caribbean. 6. Flatbush—the others are neighborhoods in Las Angeles. 7. A Star is Born—the other films starred Gene Kelly. 8. Cassoulet—the others are forms of stuffed dumplings. 9. Volleyball—the other games all use a racquet. 10. Stethoscope—the others are all surgical tools.


Aging with Confidence

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

Geographical Double-Entendres (easy)

This is a word game combined with a trivia game in which each answer is not only the name of a geographical place— but also a word with an entirely different meaning. 1. A city in southwestern Georgia or another word for prairies. __________________________________________

6. The former name of the Hawaiian Islands or a common lunch food._______________________________________

2. A county in Ireland or a wine bottle stopper. _________________________________________________

7. A river located mainly in Idaho or a legless reptile. ________________________________________________

3. A city in the Mojave Desert or sewing tools. _________________________________________________

8. A remote Polynesian island or a key Christian holiday. ________________________________________________

4. A city in Oregon or female siblings. _________________________________________________

9. A town in New Mexico or an old-time TV game show. _________________________________________________

5. An Irish city or a short, often naughty, poem. _________________________________________________

10. A city in Italy or a luncheon meat. ________________________________________________

Odd Man Out (harder)

All of the items in each list, except one, have something in common. Your job is to figure out which item is the “Odd Man Out” and why. 1. Hoover, Truman, Reagan, Eisenhower _______________________________________________

6. Brentwood, Crenshaw, Venice, Watts ________________________________________________

2. Fedora, clog, bowler, cloche _______________________________________________

7. Singin’ in the Rain, A Star is Born, An American in Paris, On the Town_____________________________________

3. Eyeglasses, elevator, shirt, remote control _______________________________________________

8. Kreplach, cassoulet, wonton, pierogi ________________________________________________

4. Trafalgar Square, Left Bank, Covent Garden, Harrods ________________________________________________

9. Tennis, squash, badminton, volleyball, ping-pong

5. Barbados, Canary Islands, Cayman Islands, Turks & Caicos Islands ____________________________

10. Retractor, stethoscope, clamp, forceps _______________________________________________


Word Play (hardest)

It helps if you read each of these word riddles very carefully, and think a little “outside the box.”

1. What part of the newspaper do angry people like best? ____________________________________________________ 2. If yesterday had been Wednesday’s tomorrow, and tomorrow is Sunday’s yesterday, what day is it? ______________ 3. What asks no questions but gets lots of answers?_________________________________________________________ 4. This is the only type of cheese that is made backward. What kind is it?_______________________________________ 5. What seven-letter word becomes longer when the third letter is removed?___________________________________ 6. Besides living and breathing, what is everyone doing at the same time? ______________________________________ 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 2020



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