3rd Act Magazine – Winter 2020

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The Costume Makes Me Ageless (Almost)

Still Clowning Around at 73

Start Your Year Off With a Laugh

Resolve to Cultivate This Healthy Habit


FINDING JOY Try These Practices

A QUILT OF HEROES Renewing the Fabric of America

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MESSAGE from the publisher

Take a Walk on the Lighter Side It’s not just the dark of winter. With our country bitterly divided, our social media bombarded by nefarious trolls and propaganda, and civil discourse all but gone, these can feel like dark times. Sometimes, when all else fails, we just have to laugh at the madness of it all. In this issue we hope to tickle your funny bone and start the new year (and decade) off with a laugh. Science tells us that laughter is good for us, and according to Dr. Carrie Horwitch at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, “It makes us feel connected and more in tune and in control of situations where we don’t have a lot of control.” By embracing our inner Way of the Comedian, we will travel a more enjoyable path to a happier, healthier life. In her story “Resolve to Laugh,” Julie Fanselow reminds us that “We

can feel sadness and anger about what’s happening in the world, and we can laugh at its absurdity. We can feel abandoned by how aging changes our bodies, and we can gently poke fun at ourselves.” I appreciate people who can laugh at the folly of aging. We can laugh at all the potions and lotions foisted on us with a promise to make us look young. We can laugh at the supplements and diets and exercises purported to help us live forever. We can laugh at our forgetfulness and our foibles. And we can embrace our inner silliness. “Hu mor i s f u n ny. M i r t h i s pleasurable. Enjoyment and pleasure are biological clues that humor is important to human survival and adaptation,” says Michael Patterson in his story “How’s Your Funny Bone?” And humor is healing. Whenever he’s feeling a little under the weather, professional clown Charles Kraus says, “Get me a show!” He knows from experience that “performing cures, or at least temporarily relieves, just about any ailment.” Not sure how to get laughing? Check out our “laughter menu” on page 58 and a sampling of local comedy clubs on page 60. Remember that spring will return—and meanwhile, a walk on the lighter side of life is good for whatever ails us.

“I appreciate people who can laugh at the folly of aging. ”

OU R VI SI ON 3rd Act Magazine endeavors to inform, inspire, and entertain older adults. Our stories and articles challenge worn-out perceptions of aging and offer a dynamic new vision: Aging is good, let’s celebrate and embrace this stage of life, and let’s age together with confidence. PU B LI SH E RS Victoria Starr Marshall David Marshall EDITOR Victoria Starr Marshall COPY EDITOR Julie Fanselow ART DIRECTOR Philip Krayna WEBSITE Philip Krayna ADVERTISING Dale Bohm DISTRIBUTION & CIRCULATION David Marshall COVE R PH OTO Ernie Sapiro WRITE TO US 3rd Act Magazine wants to hear from you! Email your comments, ideas, and questions to info@3rdActMag.com or mail to 81 Canal Lane, Brinnon, WA 98320 3rd Act Magazine is published quarterly by Oshi Publishing, LLC. The opinions, advice or statements expressed by contributing writers do not reflect those of the editors, the publishers, or of 3rd Act Magazine. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without prior consent of the publisher. It is your responsibility to evaluate the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, opinion, advice, or other content contained herein. Oshi Publishing, LLC makes no representation and, to the fullest extent allowed by law, disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied. The content published herein may include inaccuracies or typographical errors. Copyright 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 and additional information, see us online at www.3rdActMag.com.


3rd Act magazine | winter 2020


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Cultivate this healthy habit for a happy start to the New Year. JULIE FANSELOW


THE COSTUME MAKES ME AGELESS At 73, making children laugh keeps this clown young at heart. CHARLES E. KRAUS

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BETTER THAN HAPPINESS How to invite more joy into your life. SALLY FOX

A NEW LENS ON LIFE As a comic and a photographer, Rod Long savors the moment. JULIE FANSELOW

COLUMNS 8 AGING WITH INTENTION Dare to imagine life beyond your comfort zone. LINDA HENRY



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HONOR YOUR LIFE A quilt of heroes — renewing the fabric of America. JENNIFER JAMES

THE LIGHTER SIDE In search of a happily-ever-afterlife career. ANNIE CULVER


MONEY Play with life, not with the stock market. DON MCDONALD


ENLIGHTENED AGING The power of connection. DR. ERIC B. LARSON

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LETTERS Getting Real



What’s a little baggage between friends? CAROLYN BANKS





choices play a major role in how we age. STEPHEN C. SCHIMPFF


How hospice (and a camel) transformed my life. DANA BROTHERS



NEW LIFE IN DUBROVNIK’S OLD TOWN Croatia’s top tourist

and whether it is an option for you.

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Still Clowning Around at 73

Resolve to Cultivate This Healthy Habit


This is your brain on humor. MICHAEL PATTERSON



A guide to some of Seattle’s most popular mirth merchants. MISHA BERSON


BOOKS Night Hawks: Stories



by Charles Johnson Reviewed by Robin Lindley

Challenge yourself with these word puzzles.

―Suzanne Beyer

Spark of ‘Recognition’ Tess Gallagher’s story (“Life as Poetry,” Summer 2019) moved me tremendously. She is someone I would love to meet and learn from. Having a glimpse of her is amazing. This past June I can safely say that I was completely shattered. I’ve played with the word in my head, looking at it, dissecting it, and then I read Tess Gallagher’s poem, “Recognition,” which touched my very core. Her poem has urged me that maybe I should write my poems that I’ve kept to myself all these years down in my journal. Thank you for this article and thank you, Tess Gallagher, for your words. God bless. ― Alison Vermette-Lente

Moments of Beauty I “met” your magazine when a lady in our senior women’s group at church brought her copies and I have been subscribing since. I returned yesterday from our St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church women’s retreat weekend at St. Andrew’s House on Hood Canal. When I went through my mail, I found your latest issue (Fall 2019) and the “Living in Harmony” article. Many of us walked the labyrinth at Harmony Hill and enjoyed their beautiful flowers. Thank you for offering such a wonderful magazine to those of us in the 3rd Act! ―Pat Wilshusen

talk to us!

Start Your Year Off With a Laugh



Simple recipes for playful, easy meals. REBECCA CRICHTON


The Costume Makes Me Ageless


LAUGHTER ON THE MENU Resources to help fill your life with glee. DORI GILLAM

SEARCHING FOR THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH Don’t spend time chasing unicorns. Enjoy the life you have now. JULIA HUBBEL


draw enchants by day and night. RICK STEVES



THE POWER OF PLANNING Smart steps to take charge of your own aging journey. LISA MAYFIELD

adventure into the country and its culture. VICTORIA STARR MARSHALL


Finally, an article about the realities of the 24/7 of retirement! (“Together Forever,” Summer 2019) Every retirement article I’ve ever read had to do with finances—and that’s it! A big thank you to Betsy Wise for writing so honestly about this life-changing time.

FINDING JOY Try These Practices

A QUILT OF HEROES Renewing the Fabric of America

3rd Act magazine | winter 2020

Cover: Charles Kraus started performing at children’s birthday parties at age 12. At 73, he’s funnier―and having more fun― than ever. Photo by Ernie Sapiro

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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Dare to Imagine Life Beyond Your Comfort Zone BY LINDA HENRY

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


I HAVE LEARNED A NEW PHRASE. I was reading an article authored by social psychologists Mary and Ken Gergen, when I was struck by their reference to “no sweat” living. Although we may claim a belief that aging can be a time of new learning and involvement, in reality, we often become more and more content to remain engaged in activities we know are satisfying and comfortable. According to the Gergens, there are significant costs to that type of “no sweat” approach to life. Our thinking, imagination, and potential are not challenged, nor do we learn new things. Excitement and enthusiasm are diminished, the reproduction of brain cells slows, and the couch becomes the destination of choice. Ring a bell? It did for me. Are you wedded to things as they are, or are you willing to take a risk and try something different? Here’s a little quiz to start you thinking. Over the past three to six months, how many invitations to do something different have you accepted? Have you initiated a new activity with others, or do you become involved only when others suggest it? How often do you read a book on a topic you typically would not choose? Have you learned something different recently? Do you avoid situations because you assume you won’t enjoy them? Admittedly, venturing into new territory does take more effort than remaining in your comfort zone, and there is some risk in trying new

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things and nurturing new relationships. Disrupting our ordinary, however, can be highly satisfying—perhaps in unexpected ways, as the individuals below found. Susan liked her alone time and her routine. Once persuaded to attend a series of music appreciation lectures, she found considerable pleasure in learning more about the composers whose music she enjoyed. While declining physical mobility and dexterity made staying home an easy choice, Mary found satisfaction by volunteering to sort donated goods for an organization that provided clothing for recently released felons searching for employment. Finally, one group of friends decided to disrupt their ordinary by scheduling monthly mystery outings. Two members of the group were charged with planning each month’s surprise. No one knew what the activity was unless a dress code was involved. Their mystery gatherings have included trying new foods; attending concerts, plays, and ethnic community events; and even a trip to a karaoke bar. The group found each of the mystery dates to be full of surprises, laughter, and the fodder for wonderful stories. Of course, deviating from the status quo doesn’t necessarily mean doing something new. It might mean delving deeper into your current interests. Talented in the use of one medium, an artist enrolled in classes to become more proficient using another medium in her work. So, make a plan to disrupt your ordinary, and recruit a friend for your adventures. Whatever you do, know that the benefits of being fully engaged far surpass the comfort of “no sweat” living.


Aging with Confidence

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


ife is a quilt, lots of pieces, some prettier than others. There are lots of tears that require repair, stains that seem permanent, and always new pieces—as the quilt grows, we grow. Some of the best “pieces” in our quilt arrive when we step up and become heroes or when we recognize the greater heroism of others. A good way to launch into this year is to do both: Give yourself credit for your own acts of kindness or respect and keep a running list of your heroes from the past year (and this new one) so you will remember them. It is heroic when you change things for the better. The changes you make, however slight, reverberate through every generation that follows yours. If you try to avoid the abuses of your parents as you raise your own children, it is heroic. When you speak up about abuse in any form—of children, adults, animals, our environment—you are heroic. When you are active in promoting causes that increase our humanity, even if you just pick up litter, you are modeling heroic behavior for the next generation. My friend Amal and I were chatting about taking good care of our mothers as they aged, not necessarily because we thought they were great mothers, but so our children would have a good model of how to treat us. I sent my mother on a cruise and massaged her feet. Amal encouraged her daughters and their children to call their grandmother thus setting up models for two generations. Self-interest does not negate good deeds. Kindness is one of the themes in my work, but one can be tough in aid of a good cause. In 1972, Seattle was the first American city to create a rape crisis center. It took tough, passionate women to make this refuge happen (and also good

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Even in these fraught times, we can renew the fabric of America men, when a state law was passed requiring the reporting of sexual abuse of adults and children). That process required big heroes. Cultures change bit by bit when people model behavior that does not divide but holds a community together. Cultural change is hard; it upsets people’s ideas of what is right, it makes them feel that they are wrong. The old belief that women and children lied about rape and molestation was a huge barrier to believing the victims. Yet, for some there would be guilt and a loss of power if they admitted that they had ignored or attacked women who told the truth. When cultures begin deep change, tradition releases a poison that generates fear, anger, and a fight between the old and the new. There are so many examples we can laugh at now, but the battles were once steeped in venom. Men should want to fight, women should not vote, Native Americans must be kept on reservations, enslaved African Americans are three-fifths of a person, disabled people should stay home so we don’t have to ramp curbs, gays are unnatural, LGBTQ people need to hide who they are if they want to be safe. Even changing school mascots has led to violence. As always, despite extraordinary heroics, www.3rdActMag.com

there are too many examples that are still inherently cruel and deadly. Racism abounds in many forms against immigrants or asylum seekers who are not from Norway. Imagine if you were 18, dark skinned, living in a constant war zone, or starving in a depleted province. You hear there is a better place, somewhere over the hill, where you could work, eat, and live in freedom. Would you give up or try to get to the other side? I understand we cannot have chaos. I know it would be better if immigrants’ homelands could change to be safe places to stay. But what would you do, at 18? Our current atmosphere of hatred and division is a symptom of a powerful cultural shift, a tipping point to viewing our country and the world as a whole instead of separate, guarded parts. It touches a reptilian nerve to encounter such a change, which is why things have become absurd and chaotic. People build bunkers, make weapons, scream nasty names, dress as a tribe, and then attack made-up witches and closet monsters. Every major cultural change in history has brought this behavior, with ludicrous rhetoric bolstering an illusion that Aging with Confidence

forward movement can be stopped with fear-mongering and violent attacks. In these times—especially now, when the quilt of our culture is being torn by extreme partisanship—we need more heroes who realize we are not just tearing America apart. We are sewing in new pieces, cleaning what we thought were permanent stains, adding more vibrancy and color, and renewing the amazing quilt that is America. Read the words of Congressman Elijah Cummings, a true American hero who tried to bring us together until his last breath. “I’m going to do what feeds my soul,” he said. A new year offers a prompt to set a heroic goal. How can you be a bridge between the old ways of being a good citizen and the new ways? How can you help sew up the tears in our beloved quilt so we can all wrap it around ourselves and feel safe? We want to see our country as a beacon, a heroic model for the world. What can you do to restore that? Any small or large gesture will do: a word, a kindness, political activity, a willingness to lead. I am an American, born in London during the Blitz in World War II. Three hours after birth, I was in a bomb shelter. My infant years were spent in various war care homes as my parents, police officers, stayed in London. When it was over we had nothing. America welcomed us. We worked on a chicken farm outside of Spokane, where I collected eggs as a small girl. American education, a belief in hard work, and perhaps my whiteness brought me to a place I never dreamed of, and I still wonder how I got here. You wrapped me in the American quilt when I was an unknown three-year-old. I am grateful —and I want to see our American quilt wrap others in the same generous spirit of opportunity.

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I’d rather stick to my less-claustrophobic plan. Afterlife jobs, however, necessitate a sweet hereafter. I’m definitely a believer in a next chapter. All too often I gaze at cumulus clouds with a sigh and imagine my dear, departed friends and relatives whooping it up surrounded by enchanting white fluffs in the sky. The competition for spirit-world careers could be fierce, though. Street cred to become an angel? Unlikely. Jobs in heavenly human resources could be particularly competitive, too. Besides, who wants to be part of an advisory team that recommends the best matches for heaven, hell, or purgatory? Tricky placements. While I’m uncertain about the parameters for making a living as a ghost, it strikes me as a dynamic and pleasantly ill-behaved afterlife occupation. Would I always have to work night shift? There’s an allure about the clout I’d have, but I’d need to acclimate myself to scary places. What about avoiding turf wars with other ghosts? There could be more applicants than openings for afterlife careers, which is why I’m working on my elevator pitch to improve my chances when the time comes: “Hi, my name is Annie, Apocalypse Annie. I have experience as an armchair doomsday diva who offered practical advice on how to prepare for an apocalypse that was preordained for my 65th birthday. When the world didn’t end that day and anxiety died down, I started to consider how to reinvent myself for the hereafter. “I’m confident I’d make a fine apparition. I’m mischievous, inventive, a little provocative at times, yet quite adaptable, all of which means I have the makings of an all-star ghost. However, I wouldn’t want to be dubbed a ghoul or spook, which sound disrespectful.” As an apprentice ghost, it’d be just my luck that my first assignment would be in one of those wacky underground survival bunkers. Then again, scaring the folks who live there would be a cinch.

In Search of a Happily-Ever-Afterlife Career BY ANNIE CULVER

AS I ADVANCE PAST 70, I think less about dying and more about what job I might enjoy in the afterlife. I’m no Type A personality, but the inimitable charm of careers in the hereafter is worth consideration. My bona fide occupational qualifications are somewhat limited. In 2012, I learned I’d turn 65 on the day the world was supposed to end. I figured celebrating Armageddon on my winter solstice birthday deserved more than cake and a hackneyed ditty. I called myself Apocalypse Annie, a destiny reinforced by friends who dubbed me “doomsday diva.” There’s a boom in underground bunker real estate today that might lend more credence to my monikers. One promoter calls it “living the doomsday dream.” Yet, in this lifetime I’m lukewarm to the notion of retreating to some fancyschmancy, refurbished, military nuclear missile silo 200 feet below the plains of Kansas, even with the lure of a heated pool. No windows or sunshine? Hey, no yardwork. In a condo that costs considerably more than $1 million, plus monthly fees in excess of $2,500? Not sure I’d even go for the cheapie filled with dirt offered on eBay. It reminds me of The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy remarked in disbelief, “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore. We must be over the rainbow!” Sorry, Dorothy and Toto, but hunkering down in a bunker wouldn’t be my fantasy for going beyond an awesome rainbow.


3rd Act magazine | winter 2020

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.


Aging with Confidence

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Last Saturday, Bill and I went to the movies and then dinner. He is 71 and I am 76. He has been my good friend for something like 25 years. Before he arrived, I gathered all my garbage into a big black plastic bag, figuring we’d go in his car and I could get the trash to the top of my driveway without having to walk it up there. So, OK. He let me put the bag in in his trunk, but he couldn’t resist a crack about how most women he went to dinner and the movies with didn’t come with this kind of baggage. I had to admit, if it had been an actual date, the garbage would have been pretty funny.


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At the movie, Bill’s restless leg syndrome kicked in. This is a real medical condition that afflicts him, mostly, he’s told me, at night when he tries to sleep. So I watched him put his leg here and there and everywhere in an attempt to stop the symptoms. Me, I had to go to the ladies’ room four times. Four. And of course we were in the last theater of, I think, eight, so I had quite a trek to get to the bathroom and back. Fortunately, I am good at following even an elliptical plot. At Bassano’s Italian Restaurant afterward, I was gesturing while talking with my spaghettiladen fork, when lo! A long, sauce-drenched noodle went airborne and plopped onto the carpet beside our booth. I grabbed my napkin and attempted to scoop it up before some waiter skidded on it, but I couldn’t reach. My napkin, however, fell to the floor in a triangle, kind of pointing to the noodle. And speaking of noodles, I almost fell on mine—my head, that is—attempting to bend and reach my mess. When I returned to an upright position, my chum said, “Are you OK?” I guess he missed the part where I had used a portion of my meal as a lasso. Fortunately, a waiter had seen the whole thing and moved in for clean-up. I was wearing a piece—well, a chunk, really— of amber jewelry. When we’d pretty much finished eating, I looked down at my chest and just plain forgot what I’d been wearing. I gasped and began batting and grabbing at the piece of amber, thinking it was a fallen meatball. Bill didn’t miss that. “Don’t worry,” he assured me. “There is no way I would tell anyone I was with you when you were frightened by your own jewelry.” When we approached my house, I asked him to stop at my mailbox. I was retrieving the mail when I dislodged an earring. It went down the front of my blouse and I had to reach underneath and feel around for it before it fell onto the ground. I also had to do a little jiggling. Of course, from Bill’s perspective, it must have looked as though I was performing some cr aze d d a n ce, which wouldn’t be too far off the mark. (My next-


door neighbor loves rap and the strains of his music were in the air, even up at my mailbox.) I did manage to squirm and wiggle sufficiently to grab hold of the earring and jam it back onto my ear. I gathered myself haughtily, kind of the way a cat does when it’s done something stupid. I slid back into the passenger seat as if the whole episode hadn’t taken place. I was determined not to be embarrassed or even comment on what I’d just done. Then—there is no way to say this delicately—my body betrayed me. I don’t want to offend anyone, so I’ll use the Greek spelling. I pharted. The phart just escaped without warning, the way it will during, say, a yoga class. It was not a huge smelly phart, but it was certainly audible, even over the rap. “I’m sorry,” I muttered. “No problem,” he sighed. I think we were both thinking thank God we had known each other forever and this hadn’t been a date. When we rolled down the drive to my door, I asked whether or not he wanted to come in. “No,” he told me. “I want to get back to Austin before it gets too dark.” When he drove off and I got back inside the house, I realized that I’d have to call him on his cell phone immediately: He and I had both forgotten about the bag of garbage and, oh, jeez, it was still in the trunk of his car.

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Play with Life, Not with the Stock Market BY DON MCDONALD

The host of the nationally syndicated Don McDonald Show for over 20 years, Don now co-hosts Talking Real Money with Tom Cock on Seattle’s KOMO radio Saturdays at noon (talkingrealmoney.com). Don also publishes the investing magazine, real investing journal (realinvestingjournal. com).


WHEN WE WERE YOUNG, time seemed infinite and we lived in the moment. Now that we’re older (and possibly wiser), we know how limited our time is. Yet we spend much of it worrying about the future instead of enjoying what we have right now. Don’t misunderstand: I am a huge advocate of planning, particularly of the financial kind. However, far too often, we get caught up in the joyless process of what we think is investing for our future when, in reality, we are ignoring our present. Have you ever sat watching the ticker on CNBC? Do you check the price of the stocks in your portfolio throughout the day? Are you on the lookout for the next hot stock or worried that we are on the brink of market decline? If so, you are wasting your precious time playing with your money instead of enjoying your life. Sure, you need to build wealth for future security and to have the means to enjoy some of the pricier aspects of life in retirement. But trying to time the stock market or pick the hottest stocks is unlikely to create more wealth than investing passively. Plus, obsessing about returns takes a lot of time and mental energy. We like to think that we can “beat the market.” We have mighty egos that lead us to believe that we’re above average in almost everything we do. The reality is far different. We are

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very good at a very few things and there’s just no sense in wasting our time trying to be the best at everything. I’d be willing to bet that very few of you are (or were) professional money managers, making a living building investment portfolios. So it seems likely that those who manage money for a living are generally better at it than you. Every year, Standard & Poors (the company behind the S&P 500 index) calculates the success of all professional mutual fund managers. It has yet to find any data that would indicate that these experts—with all of their analysts and algorithms—actually manage to beat the markets. The latest SPIVA (Standard & Poors Indexes Versus Active) study found that over five years ending December 31, 2018, over 82% of active large-cap stock fund managers failed to beat the S&P 500 index. If mutual fund managers with all of their resources are unable to outperform the stock market, what makes you believe you can do it? Why waste time trying to make more money than the underlying securities markets provide when you could spend that time in pursuit of more worthwhile activities? Had you placed all of your money in the S&P 500 for the 20 years ending December 31, 2018, you would have enjoyed an average annual return of more than 6%. That’s after two bear markets and the “lost decade,” during which the S&P 500 lost 10% between 2000 and 2009. Better still, had you created a globally diversified equity portfolio (50% U.S., 50% international), your annual average would have likely been about 8%. Even a boring balanced portfolio (60% global stocks, 40% U.S. government bonds) would have returned about 6% per year on average. It’s far more likely that you’ll make more money by investing passively. So, wouldn’t it be smarter to stop playing with your money and spend more time playing in your life?


3rd Act Magazine Brings Home the Gold! Our Spring 2018 issue recently received the gold award from National Mature Media for Best Local/State Editorial Magazine! But that’s not all! Every one of our 2018 issues won awards including 2 Silvers and a Bronze!

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The Power of Connection Staying Socially Active is Worth a Billion BY DR. ERIC B. LARSON

AT AGE 100, Evangeline Shuler—a participant in one of our research studies on healthy aging— was remarkably vivacious. Living in a high-rise senior community in downtown Seattle, she independently rode the bus to doctor’s appointments. She went to weekly senior dances at the Elks Lodge on Shilshole Bay. And she even traveled to Argentina that year with her daughter Lynn. People often asked Evangeline, “What’s your secret to living so long?” “I wish I knew,” she would reply. “If I did, I would be a billionaire.” The more I learn about super-agers like Evangeline, however, the less mysterious their longevity seems. Inherited traits and healthy habits play a part. Exercising regularly, eating a good diet, not smoking, and managing chronic illness are all essential. But I’ve also found there’s an attitude beneath it all that helps people prevent illness and stay vital. They proactively build a lot of positive, healthy, social activity into their daily lives. Simply put, it’s much better to be surrounded by friends and relatives who care about your health, safety, and well-being than to be alone. Most of the benefits are obvious, especially as we face agerelated changes such as limited mobility or the loss of loved ones. Lending a hand to each other in illness, grief, and disability is what friends and family do. But other perks of living and working in a strong community may not be so apparent.


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For example, avoiding social isolation makes us more resilient; we’re better able to bounce back from illness when it happens. How social reserves come together for any individual depends on many of factors, such as your culture, family situation, and living arrangements. But those who proactively take steps to connect with others on a routine basis often benefit from their efforts. In an interview after Evangeline’s death at age 107, Lynn shared stories about her mom’s daily routines. “Van,” as people called her, made plans each day that would motivate her to get up, get dressed, and get out the door. “She had to think ahead to the friend she was going to meet or the bus she needed to catch,” Lynn said. While in her 90s, Van would meet a group of friends at 8 a.m. each morning for coffee. There was a ritual quality to the gathering; each person was expected to share a story or tell the “daily joke.” The meeting also served as a safety check. If one member didn’t show up, the group would contact that person to be sure he or she hadn’t gotten sick or taken a fall. Over many visits to Van’s senior community, Lynn saw her mother’s friends decline physically with age. “Yet, their enthusiasms, laughter, storytelling, and helpfulness to each other continued,” Lynn said. This arrangement did not occur by chance. Nor did anybody outside of the group make it happen for them. They formed the social circle themselves, knowing it was good for them as individuals and for each other. They took action to create the daily routines that would keep them connected. This may have been the “billionaire” scheme that kept Van so vibrant over the decades. Dr. Eric B. Larson is vice president for research and health care innovation at Kaiser Permanente Washington and author of Enlightened Aging: Building Resilience for a Long, Active Life (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017).


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Mistakes that Shorten Your Lifespan And What to Do Instead BY STEPHEN C. SCHIMPFF


Most Americans don’t realize how much lifestyle choices made starting in their early 20s can speed up or slow down the aging process and impact the onset of chronic illnesses years later. The average adult loses one percent of every bodily function every year beginning in early adulthood. For many of us, that annual one percent is even higher due to unhealthy lifestyle habits. To put this into perspective, by age 50, many of us have already lost at least 30% of every bodily function. What does all that loss mean? Earlier onset of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. It also leads to issues including obesity, mobility problems, and osteoporosis. And it means aging faster. While genetics plays a small role in the development of aging and many diseases, lifestyle choices play the major role. The good news is that avoiding four common mistakes can actually slow the aging process. It won’t stop it—we will all eventually die—but lifestyle modifications can help us live longer and healthier. And this prescription costs nothing. Here are the most common mistakes Americans are making that could shorten our lives and what we should be doing instead:


Eating the wrong things.ssssss.

The typical American diet is high in sugar, white flour, and ultra-processed foods—such as instant noodles, breakfast cereals, and energy bars—and relatively low in vegetables and healthy fats. The average American eats 77.3 pounds of sweeteners per year, or 22.9 teaspoons per day, according to the Pew Research Center. The center also found that Americans consume the equivalent of 122.1 pounds of grains each year, in the form of breads, pastries, and other baked goods. Most of these are in the form of refined white flour, often with added unhealthy fats. How it speeds up the aging process: Sugar and white flour (which rapidly digests to sugar) increase blood glucose levels, which increase insulin levels. The insulin helps the glucose enter muscle, brain, and other cells, where it is used for energy. Excess glucose is stored in the liver. However, once the liver is full, any remaining glucose—with the help of insulin—is sent to fat cells, especially in the belly area. That fat then produces inflammatory chemicals on a low but steady basis. Over time, that inflammation contributes to coronary artery disease, heart attacks, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, and other conditions.

Aging with Confidence

Ultra-processed foods pose other dangers. A recent JAMA Internal Medicine study found that every 10% increase in the consumption of ultra-processed foods increases the risk of death by 14%. What to do: Eat less sugar and white flour and eat more fruit s and vegetables. Try to incorporate dark green, leafy vegetables into most meals and select a variety of types and colors of vegetables. Vegetables have powerful antioxidants that reduce harmful inflammation, bolster the health benefits of intestinal microbiota, and slow the aging process.


Sitting, sitting and more sitting.

Americans spend most of their waking time sitting. We sit while eating breakfast, in the car on the way to work, in front of our computers at work, at our desks while eating lunch, and so on. A survey of about 5,900 adults (with findings published in the Journal of the American Medical Association) found that nearly 26% of adults sit for more than eight hours a day, and about 11% are also physically inactive. How it speeds up the aging process: Sitting is the new smoking. It’s terrible for us. Our bodies were built to move, and if they don’t move, they deteriorate. Without movement, the body produces chemicals that fan inflammation, similar to having excess fat. Those same chemicals

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Mistakes that Shorten Your Lifespan And What to Do Instead

speed up the aging process. Bone mineral density begins declining one percent every year starting in our 20s. This means that by age 80, most Americans have already lost 60% of their bone mineral density and lost muscle strength and balance. Poorer balance leads to trips and falls, weaker muscles can’t prevent the falls, and the result is broken hips and backs. For many seniors, this may lead to premature death. What to do: Start doing the work now to keep your bones and muscles as strong and healthy as long as possible. Movement is critical for nearly all body organs and functions. Set a timer to stand and take a short walk every 60 minutes and spend at least another 30 minutes per day exercising. Incorporate weights or resistance exercises two to three times weekly. Do balance exercises, too.


Not sleeping enough.............

We all know people who brag about how little sleep they need per night, but they are fooling themselves. Sleep deprivation has major health consequences. A 2013 Gallup poll found that the average American slept for only 6.8 hours per night, and many slept 5.5 hours or less. How it speeds up the aging process: Sleep is essential for staving off the aging process. It ensures your cells have time for repair and restoration after a hard day. When we sleep, our brain cells literally shrink, allowing f luid to wash the cells and pump out harmful toxins. During sleep, our brain organizes our memories, filing them away for later retrieval. Too little sleep leads to reduced mental functioning and impaired learning capacity. What to do: Get plenty of sleep—about 7.5 hours per night. Avoid stimulating movies and TV before bed, forget about emails and Facebook after early evening, leave about three hours for dinner to digest before bedtime, have a


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perfectly dark room, turn off cell phones and other devices (the light is enough to impact your brain’s sense of night and day), and keep the bedroom for sleeping, not watching TV.


Letting stress take over.gugh..

Stress is a major health problem in the United States. A 2018 report from the American Psychological Association found that the average American has a stress level of 4.9 on a scale of 1 to 10. It also found that younger generations now ranging in age from 16 to 54 have the highest stress levels. Top stressors, according to the survey, include work, money, and health concerns. How it speeds up the aging process: Even continual low levels of stress can shorten our lives. When stressed, we breathe more rapidly, our hearts pump faster, and our blood pressure rises. Stress causes us to produce normal acute stress chemicals like adrenaline and cortisol in low levels day and night; these have multiple adverse consequences including persistent inflammation that damages various body organs. What to do: You cannot avoid all stress, so learn to manage it. Take a relaxing walk, meditate, or try yoga, tai chi, or other forms of exercise. Stop and breathe deeply and slowly for a few moments. Also, be aware of what you eat when you are stressed. Don’t reach for sugary foods; instead, fix a cup of tea and grab some nuts or veggies. It’s never too early—or too late—to think about healthy aging. While you will eventually die, you can slow the process. While you can’t prevent all of the health challenges that head your way, you can avoid most of them and ensure that your body is as prepared as possible to fend off the others. Just as saving and investing money for retirement starting at a young age will compound over the years, so too will attention to living a healthy life. Stephen C. Schimpff is a quasi-retired internist, professor of medicine and public policy, former CEO of the University of Maryland Medical Center, senior adviser to Sage Growth Partners, and author of Fixing the Primary Care Crisis. Readers can learn more about healthy aging by reading his latest book, Longevity Decoded – The 7 Keys to Healthy Aging.


HEY BIG DRUG COMPANIES, TIME TO END PRICE GOUGING. While too many Americans struggle to make ends meet, the big drug companies continue to rake in billions. It’s no wonder, considering that they make us pay the highest prescription drug prices in the world. If they can afford to spend nearly $175 million for lobbying, and more than $6 billion for advertising, then surely they can find some way to lower prices and stop gouging Americans. People shouldn’t have to choose between buying medication and buying food for our families. It’s time to act. Stop the greed. Cut drug prices now.

Call 1-800-562-6000 today and urge your state lawmakers to pass legislation lowering the price of prescription drugs.

Facebook.com/AARPWA @AARPWA AARP.org/WA Aging with Confidence

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Searching for the Fountain of Youth (AKA Chasing Unicorns)


If it isn’t supplements, it’s green glop. If it isn’t CBD oil, it’s Hatha yoga. It if isn’t Hatha yoga, it’s immersing yourself in Arctic waters. Every day I read more articles that purport to offer the magic path to the fountain of youth. If I keep Googling longevity secrets, I will find plenty of snake oil salesmen’s promises side by side with research papers by formidable institutions on what keeps us young—or whatever it is we’re seeking. A WebMD article states that those of us with a centenarian in our family tree have a genetic boost that can even help neutralize some of our lesshelpful habits. Yes. Well, sort of. Maybe.


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It depends, doesn’t it? Genetics can’t save you much more than they can prematurely “grave you.” Ahem. I have a slew of mid-90-ers in my family history. That doesn’t give me the go-ahead to make chocolate-covered donuts part of my daily diet. Genetics aren’t a guarantee, nor are they a death sentence. They’re suggestions. In some instances, strongly worded ones. You and I, as we gather years, can spend a lot of time poring over articles, pouring potions down our throats, and potentially making ourselves much older by worrying about the passage of time. We can travel to the world’s much vaunted but quickly disappearing Blue Zones, where folks have very long lives. We still have to do the work: eat well, exercise, have a purpose, and a social circle. I just have to wonder that if by constantly chasing the Next Big Thing, we might be missing The Very Big Thing right in front of us. A new grandchild.


An opportunity to spend a week in Paris. That guy who keeps flirting with us when we have coffee at Starbucks. That new art class at the community center, which we could afford if we’d stop paying for expensive face creams that don’t work. It’s time to stop obsessing. I can think of a few things that might be a better expenditure of our time. It strikes me, as I research, write, and laugh at the magical cures—the bracing cold water dips, the commitment to board games (which have some real benefit for your gray matter, but so does orienteering, which is even better, but I digress)— that the real point is to relax, already. Yes, I work out hard. Yes, I eat very carefully. Yes. I build new friendships and have a larger purpose. I do a great many of the things to help me live well. However, I do none of them specifically to ward off the aging process. I do them because they feel good. I feel strong. Happy. Engaged. I feel richly alive. Energetic. Because doing them is an act of respect for this body. Because I have work to do and places to go and people to love and animals to massage and a world to explore. When tired, I rest. When hungry, I eat. When I need a break, I drag my ancient teddy bear Gerry to the couch, curl up with him, and nap sweetly for 20 minutes. I listen to my body. When it wants protein, I grab a big fat spoon of peanut butter, some eggs, or a big handful of almonds. When it wants something sweet, most times it’s fruit. Sometimes it’s chocolate or Krispy Kreme and damn the little bit of sugar. Most of my meals are on the best-seller list of how to avoid diabetes but I like this stuff. Love it, in fact. That’s not a diet. Nor am I giving up much. My point is that most happy folks I know have found a way of being that allows them to live happily. How thin they are or how rich they are both are utterly meaningless. They have come to terms with life, as well as what they have left of it. One of my favorite tales of all time is Lonesome Dove. Augustus “Gus” McCrae—a crusty, dusty, funny, and monumentally wise aging Texas Ranger, the main character in Larry McMurtry’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel—breaks our funny bone and

Aging with Confidence

our heart with his homespun wisdom. In one scene, the lovely prostitute Lorena is bemoaning having been left behind by Jake Spoon, the classic womanizing ne’er-do-well. Gus explains to her that her heartfelt desire to get to San Francisco (a very dangerous trip through high country and serious angry hostiles) is misplaced. He says, as Lorena tears up: “Lorie darlin’, life in San Francisco, you see, is still just life. If you want any one thing too badly, it’s likely to turn out to be a disappointment. The only healthy way to live life is to learn to like all the little everyday things — like a sip of good whiskey in the evening, a soft bed, a glass of buttermilk, or a feisty gentleman like myself.” I want to be feisty. I am feisty. Not for my age. For being human and healthy and happy. And living vividly. Age doesn’t have a damned thing to do with it. Not h i ng i n as we this article says be gather years, can like me. Nothing spend a lot of time in this article poring over articles, implies criticism for any choices pouring potions down our throats, you’ve made or are making. All and potentially making ourselves I’m saying is that the less time we much older by worrying about the spend trying to find a fix for what passage of time. can’t be fixed, the more life we can live loving the simple things. Celebrating where we are. I do have a soft bed. A roof over my head. Friends I treasure. Options, for which I am eternally grateful. If you want any one thing too badly, it’s likely to turn out to be a disappointment. As Gus famously said, “It’s not dyin’ I’m talkin’ about, it’s livin’.” Thanks, Gus. That it is.

You and I,

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

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The Power of Planning

Taking Charge of Your Own Aging Journey BY LISA MAYFIELD

At 72, Betsy is doing all the right things to ensure she enjoys good physical, emotional, mental, and financial health. She eats a Mediterranean diet, doesn’t smoke, drinks in moderation, exercises regularly, has adjusted her spending and investments for retirement, goes for regular check-ups with her doctor, and gets the recommended health screenings. She gardens, spends quality time with family and friends, takes classes, travels, and volunteers. Her life is busy, full, and fun. However, Betsy lived by herself in a large, two-story home with a generous yard she maintains herself in a remote part of western Washington. Her home was a 20-minute drive from the closest family member. For all her planning and thoughtful preparation, Betsy didn’t anticipate how a chronic back issue could flare up. Yet it did, resulting in a panicked call to her daughter (then 911), followed by an ambulance ride to the ER and a three-day hospital stay. On her homecoming, Betsy’s new normal was obvious from the moment she left the car and slowly, cautiously navigated the walkway and stairs to her front door. She began taking note of changes she would need to make as she healed. This scenario is far too common. Fortunately for Betsy, she fully recovered and has adjusted activities to keep the back pain at bay. She’s also making practical changes she’s sorry she hadn’t made earlier.


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What are some of those areas we often overlook that are essential to successful planning and preparing for longevity? Here’s a list to review. LEGAL DOCUMENTS Make this the first step. If we don’t have basic legal documents in order, it can easily and unnecessarily complicate everything else. According to the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, estate planning documents should include durable powers of attorney for health care and finances; advance health care directive to physicians (living will); a will; and anatomical gifts/burial instructions. Incapacitation for any reason puts the burden of decision making on people who may not be prepared for the responsibility. These binding legal documents are like a love letter: They spell out our wishes and can relieve a loved one’s concern about making the right choices. COMMUNITY Being able to draw on social networks of friends or family is an important contribution to general well-being and


quality of life. Living in a community where we feel safe, that is affordable, and where our goals and needs are met is essential.

family or friends to figure out. Start to prepare now. Planning can safeguard our happiness, our health, and our peace of mind. Are we ready?

FINANCES Whether the plan is to continue working full time or part time, retire and travel, move closer to family, or stay put, we need to understand the financial landscape and how our money will support us in the years ahead. We also need to get a sense of how our finances might be impacted if our health changes.

Lisa Mayfield is founder and principal of Aging Wisdom, an Aging Life Care consulting, care management, and creative engagement practice that strives to bring peace of mind by both directly improving the quality of life for older adults and by providing consultation and coaching services for their families. Learn more at AgingWisdom.com.

HEALTH We all have concerns about our health as we age. Perhaps our memory isn’t as sharp as it once was. A family history of high cholesterol or cancer can cause worry. What can we do or change now to ensure a healthy future? How do we stay positive as we grow older?

Aging Life Care Professionals. Aging Life Care, also known as geriatric care management, is a holistic, client-centered approach to caring for older adults or others facing ongoing health challenges or planning ahead: AgingLifeCare.org

HOME Take a discerning look around. Betsy now wishes she’d moved sooner to a community closer to her adult children with everything on one level, including a barrier-free entry to her home. She has made this move and feels better prepared if she has another emergency. If you have a steep incline or stairs that are more difficult to navigate with each passing year, it may be time to move. Home adaptions are one possibility and can be costeffective. They include improved lighting, grab bars in bathrooms, a low- or no-barrier shower entry, and removing rugs to reduce the likelihood of a fall. A certified aging-in-place specialist can help you navigate these home modifications. TRANSPORTATION Betsy was homebound for a time—and if she later found herself unable to drive, she had very limited options for transportation where she used to live. Having access to public transportation, ride share services, or living in a walkable, accessible community can make a huge difference in your mobility, as well as your ability to access entertainment, social and community engagement, shopping, and health care.

Planning is empowering. We should all give these key areas serious consideration and reflection. If we find there is a gap, engaging the advice of an elder law attorney, financial adviser, and aging life care professional can be a smart investment in preparing for our longevity. Don’t leave your future to chance. Don’t leave it to

Aging with Confidence


Center for Healthy Aging (part of the National Council on Aging): ncoa.org/center-for-healthyaging/ Certified Aging in Place Specialists. These professionals help people modify their homes for safety and comfort. Search for them on the National Association of Home Builders website at nahb.org. National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys: naela.org MIT Age Labs 8,000 Days Workbook. A workbook to help you make the most of retirement agelab.mit.edu/system/files/2018-12/8000_days_ workbook_0.pdf Plan Your Lifespan. This website includes an easyto-use tool that you can fill in with your plans, make updates as needed, and easily share it with family and friends: PlanYourLifespan.org

Books Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life by Louise Aronson Enlightened Aging: Building Resilience for a Long, Active Life by Dr. Eric B. Larson and Joan DeClaire Who Will Take Care of Me When I’m Old? by Joy Loverde Women Rowing North: Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing as We Age by Mary Pipher

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3rd Act magazine | winter 2020



• Most people will rely on family members to provide the day-to-day care. The impact and burden on those family members is usually significant. • Use nest egg assets and income to self-fund the care. This is a good option if you have sufficient wealth, though liquidating assets to pay for care can have huge tax consequences. But what happens if you need to sell family property that your spouse will need, or that was intended to be passed on to the family? • Medicare. This option is only available after a person has spent down their nest egg to poverty levels. • Long-term care insurance: This provides tax-free income (or reimbursement) that pays for some or all of caregiving expenses wherever that care is needed.

Long-Term Care Insurance

Your questions answered BY DAVID CLEMONS

If you are over 65, there is a 70% chance that you’ll need some long-term care assistance in your lifetime. That means you’ll need help with basic activities of daily living—like dressing or feeding yourself—due to some form of disability or dementia before you die. Paying for this help is expensive, and there is a lot of misunderstanding about how these costs are covered. Medicare does not pay for these services. Long-term care insurance products have been around since 1974, yet less than 20% of Americans have this insurance protection. WHY BUY LTC INSURANCE? Our population is living longer than ever before. But the flipside of that is modern medicine tends to delay a natural death rather than extend a healthy life. The need for longterm care can have a significant impact on your nest egg. WHAT DOES EXTENDED CARE COST? Today, home care agencies in the Seattle area charge $30-35 per hour. (Ten hours a day of care can cost over $ 9,000 a month.) Assisted living communities range from $4,000 to $8,000 per month depending on the community and amount of care needed. Nursing homes range from $9,000 to $12,000 per month.

DOES MY HEALTH INSURANCE OR MEDICARE COVER LONG TERM CARE? No, these health insurance plans are designed for short-term rehab, prevention, and treatment for diagnosed health issues. WHAT DOES LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE COVER? A LTC policy has a monthly limit of purchased benefits that covers home care, assisted living, nursing home, adult family homes, and adult day care. Most long-term care insurance benefits (80%) are used for in-home care. WHAT TYPES OF LONG-TERM CARE PRODUCTS ARE THERE? In this writer’s opinion, traditional LTC products are the best way to insure for the risk of long-term care. Life insurance, hybrids (life insurance and LTC combined), and LTC annuities are also options. WHY DON’T MORE PEOPLE PURCHASE LTC COVERAGE? You must be in good health when you try to obtain coverage, so many people don’t qualify. Many people just can’t afford the premiums based on their lifestyle or budgets. Then there are those who think this will never happen to them or just don’t get around to addressing this risk. WILL THE NEW WASHINGTON STATE LONG-TERM CARE TRUST ACT BE A REAL BENEFIT TO CONSUMERS? This law, passed in 2019, is the first of its kind in the United States—but the program won’t start paying benefits until 2025. Payroll deductions of 58 cents per $100 of income will start in 2022. A person must pay into the system for 10 years to get the benefit of $36,500. For someone who is not working or who has already retired, there will be no benefit. Most employees will see this deduction come out of their paychecks with only a few opt-out exceptions. CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE

Aging with Confidence

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Meal Prepara

Errands & Tra WHY DON’T SOME PEOPLE USE THEIR LTC INSURANCE? In my experience, many insurance policies are not utilized as soon as a person is eligible to begin receiving benefits. Some people do not want caregivers in their homes, or do not want to move from their homes into a safer environment like an assisted living community. This can put an unnecessary burden on a spouse or family caregiver when respite services and paid caregivers could be helping. It’s important to note: LTC insurance premiums stop when a claim is approved and opened. If you have LTC insurance, use it as soon as you are eligible. WHO SHOULD CONSIDER PURCHASING LTC INSURANCE? Someone who wants to plan for the possibility of needing extended care, has good health, and can afford the premiums. Insurance lessens the impact of paying for care

and helps preserve your resources. It allows family members to provide more emotional and loving support without being burdened by the day-to-day responsibilities of care.


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ARE LTC PREMIUMS TAX DEDUCTIBLE? They can be if you own your own business or are self-employed. HSA and FSA accounts can be used to pay premiums. Some states allow for deductions or tax credits for owning coverage on their state income taxes.


WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST HEADWINDS FOR THE LONG-TERM CARE INDUSTRY? Today, the best care communities have waiting lists of many months or even years. There’s a shortage of open beds in care facilities, and as our population ages, home care agencies are having trouble hiring enough staff to handle the increasing demand for caregivers. When someone is looking for help, one of the first questions asked by communities and home care agencies is “Do you have long-term care insurance?” I can tell you: There is an advantage to being able to say yes. David Clemons has been assisting clients with long-term care planning solutions for over 18 years. He can be reached at dgcclem@earthlink.net or 425-823-8961.

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Dr. Carrie Horwitch practices what she preaches. Photos courtesy of Virginia Mason Medical Center


Laugh! Northwestern winters aren’t easy. Last fall, as the days relentlessly grew shorter, I got my flu shot, sure—but I also felt compelled to inoculate myself with some booster shots of fun. That’s how I found myself flat on my back with about 10 other people, eyes closed, laughing non-stop for five minutes near the close of a Saturday morning session with the Green Lake Laughter Yoga Meetup. Cackles, chortles, giggles, and guffaws rang out as waves of levity rolled across the Seattle park. “Very good, very good, yay!” we yelled as our chuckles subsided. And it was. After an hour of laughter, my breathing seemed deeper. My hunched-up shoulders relaxed a little. Best of all, the beauty of the autumn day seemed just a bit sweeter, making a memory I’ll be able to conjure in deepest January when spring is still a long way off. (Our leader Jessica warned us that “residual


3rd Act magazine | winter 2020

Bring cheer to your new year with this doctorapproved habit

joy” was a likely side effect, along with the aerobic workout we’d just done merely by laughing.) It all felt great in BY JULIE FANSELOW the moment. But seriously: Can I really laugh off the little rebellions my body is mounting, never mind the angst I feel over election-year politics and climate change? Does laughter truly make a difference as we age? Dr. Carrie Horwitch is a believer. “I think laughter, in a sense, normalizes the abnormal,” says Horwitch, an internist at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle. “It makes us feel connected and more in tune and in control of situations where we don’t have a lot of control.” For Horwitch, learning she had ovarian cancer was such a situation. As she recounts in her book The Death of My Uterus and Other Humorous Events, she realized early in her recovery that humor would help her heal.


HAH HAH HEE HEE HAH HAH Hospitalization and illness bring a lot of indignities, but even harrowing experiences can be amusing when we choose to view them that way—and Horwitch did, writing limericks to make light of her plight. Delving deeper into laughter for healing, she learned how laughter clubs—which use guided exercises to induce contagious, mirthful laughter—were taking off in India. She became a certified laughter leader and started using the techniques with patients and colleagues at Virginia Mason. “Laughter is a great exercise. It can be done by anybody,” including people with limited mobility, Horwitch notes. “You can sit and do laughter. You can stand and do laughter.” Laughter delivers oxygen to the brain and the rest of the body. It releases stress-beating endorphins, and like mindfulness, it can help people deal with chronic pain. A few years ago, Horwitch shared her findings with fellow physicians from around the region during a wellness class, leading them in 10 minutes of laughter exercises. That gave Dr. Ted Brown an idea. “When we finished I think everyone there thought, wow, this is really cool and I feel really good,” recalls Brown, who is a neurologist with Evergreen Health Multiple Sclerosis Center in Kirkland. “And I immediately thought, ‘What about my patients?’” Brown started looking into laughter therapy and, with the support of the Evergreen Health Foundation, did a study of 30 patients with a variety of central nervous system disorders: mostly MS, but also Parkinson’s, Lou Gehrig’s disease, and other conditions. After eight weekly classes (in groups of about eight people each) with Bellevue-based certified laughter leader Julie Plaut Warwick, Brown and his team discovered some hopeful signs in areas including fatigue, stress levels, and—checking in again eight weeks later—an overall sense of well-being. One participant found their blood pressure went up after laughter therapy, but there were no other bad side effects. Brown and his colleague Dr. Virginia Simnad presented their findings at the 2018 Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers meeting in Nashville. A few Seattle-area doctors using laughter therapy might not signal a health care revolution, but someday physicians and patients may routinely view laughter as important to well-being as a healthy diet and adequate sleep. “Everybody laughs around the world and it has the same physiologic benefits for everyone,” Horwitch notes. “You don’t have to have humor in order to laugh,

Aging with Confidence

but if you laugh more, you may have better humor.” Yet Horwitch adds that before she suggests laughter therapy, “I will always make sure it’s an appropriate moment for me to bring that up.” “I prescribe it as often as I can,” says Horwitch, gleefully demonstrating the cascading hee-hee-haha-ho-ho laugh she teaches to patients. “My motto is ‘laugh until it helps.’” Brown and Horwitch agree that for maximum benefit, it helps to laugh with other people. A lunchtime laughter group open to everyone meets weekly on Tuesdays at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, and you can find other groups on MeetUp.com. If you’re living with a chronic condition, sharing in support groups can often include stress-releasing laughter. You can even laugh alone at home: Green Lake Laughter Yoga Meetup leader Jessica Brustad has a bunch of one-minute laughter exercise samples on her YouTube channel. (You’ll find a link under her blog at TheFunnyYogi.com. I can’t keep a straight face when I watch “Donkey Laughter.”) “If it works to watch a

Photo by Terri Thompson Randall

A few Seattle-area doctors using

laughter therapy might not signal a health care revolution, but someday physicians and patients may routinely view laughter as important to well-being as a healthy diet and adequate sleep.

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| 3rd Act magazine 33



humorous video or movie and it makes you laugh, that’s great,” says Horwitch. And like other forms of exercise, a little laughter can go a long way. “If you’re willing to start with five minutes a day, then start with five minutes,” says Horwitch. “If I’m driving and the traffic is bad, I’ll use laughter to relax. It works on so many levels.” Not everyone finds the same things funny, but in laughter therapy, this doesn’t matter. Doing laughter exercises doesn’t depend on being clever. “It’s laughter in and of itself,” says Brown. Not yet convinced of the power of laughter to heal? Consider this: Improvisational comedy grew out of games that social worker Viola Spolin created to help inner-city and immigrant kids in Chicago be their own best silly selves. (Spolin later teamed with her son to create the Compass Players, which became The Second

You don’t have to have

humor in order to laugh, but if you laugh more, you may have better humor. City.) Two words have always been at the heart of improv: The phrase “Yes, and …” aims to encourage positive affirmation, whether you’re playing a theater game, doing a crazy laugh exercise, or recognizing all the messy contradictions of modern life. In other words, we can feel sadness and anger about what’s happening in the world, and we can laugh at its absurdity. We can feel abandoned by how aging changes our bodies, and we can gently poke fun at ourselves. We can mourn the steady loss of family and friends, and we can celebrate their memories and joyfully cherish everyone who is still here. If you’re looking for a good resolution for whatever awaits us in 2020, laughing more may be worth a try. Julie Fanselow, a frequent contributor to 3rd Act, is always ready for a good laugh. She lives in Seattle.

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A look at the science behind why laughter is important BY MICHAEL C. PATTERSON

he author E.B. White once commented that “humor can be dissected, as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process.” In spite of White’s sage warning, I will wade into this murky frog pond and offer a short explanation of why humor and mirth exist—and trust that humor will survive my humble attempts at dissection. To some, humor may seem like a frivolous behavior, a luxury when compared to behaviors like searching for food or selecting a mate. But there are good reasons to believe that humor is an evolved cognitive function that makes a significant contribution to our ability to survive and thrive. Humor is funny. Mirth is pleasurable. Enjoyment and pleasure are biological clues that humor is important to human survival and adaptation. The reward of pleasure motivates us to engage in the specific activities that develop the skills and intelligence human beings need to prosper. What are the adaptive behaviors that are associated with humor and mirth? According to the authors of Inside Jokes: Using Humor to Reverse-Engineer the Mind, humor motivates us to use our brains in ways that make us smarter. We make sense of the world by creating conceptual maps of reality that are accurate enough to be successful most of the time. Humor helps us create and evaluate these mental models of the world. Humor also helps us evaluate new information and test whether or not it fits into our existing mental maps. Humor is an alarm system in our brain. It alerts us when new information conflicts with existing ideas and it helps us resolve the conflict.


3rd Act magazine | winter 2020

These activities take a lot of mental energy. We perform them because Mother Nature rewards the effort by making it fun and gratifying. A Roman legionnaire walks into a bar and raises two fingers. “Bartender! Five beers, please.” The story of the Roman legionnaire follows the standard architecture of a joke. It starts by constructing a mental map that is immediately confounded. “Five beers? He only held up two fingers.” Alarms are sounded! We are confused, befuddled, and put on edge. This gentle assault on the mental map demands an explanation. Our brains are designed to seek resolutions to confusion. And, when a solution is found, we are rewarded with a flood of pleasurable feelings of self-congratulation. “Aha! I get it. Roman numerals. V = five. Ha, ha.” The pleasure of mirth encourages us to perform the important survival task of resolving confusion and keeping our mental maps in good working order. In a journal article enticingly titled “Explanation as Orgasm,” University of California at Berkeley psychologist Alison Gopnik suggests that we are hard-wired to lust after explanations of the mysterious because confusion is dangerous and clarity is protective. The search for explanations, says Gopnik, includes a “hmm” component (that’s strange) and an “aha!” component (now I understand). Curiosity drives us to explore the “hmm” question and the effort is rewarded with a gush of pleasure when the “aha!” solution is found.


A termite walks into a bar and asks, “Is the bar tender here?” The human species is spectacularly successful because of its ability to adapt to diverse environments and constantly changing conditions. This adaptability requires creative thinking—the ability to break away from automatic routines along with the ability to think about how we are thinking. Humor exercises and strengthens our creative thinking and our metacognition. It isn’t easy to break free from automatic thinking routines. We often need specific techniques to get us out of a thinking rut. In his book Serious Creativity, Edward de Bono describes one such technique he calls “Po” to signify a provocation. The idea of Po is to present a bizarre idea or image that initially confounds the mind. “A termite walks into a bar” is a provocation. Termites don’t walk into bars! The joke forces a “What if?” speculation. What if a large termite actually did walk into a bar? The mind refuses to be confounded and works to resolve the conflicting ideas, which results in creative thinking and innovative solutions.

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The second part of the joke stimulates another creative technique that de Bono calls “lateral thinking.” Rather than progress along the predicted route, the mind suddenly ends up at an unanticipated destination. It has been forced out of one conceptual map (bartenders) and been thrust into another (a tender bar). This “lateral” move demands an explanation and opens the mind to new areas of investigation. To survive and thrive in an ever-changing world, our minds need to be flexible and capable of making these “remote association” connections between far-flung ideas and concepts. Humor forces us to be more open-minded and exercises our capacity to update and amend our mental maps of the world. The more we exercise these cognitive muscles, the stronger they become and the better we are able to cope with the challenges of life. Fortunately, Mother Nature has made this activity fun by inventing humor and endowing human minds with the emotional reward of mirth. 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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Aging with Confidence

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| 3rd Act magazine 37

The Costume Makes Me Ageless. Almost. BY CHARLES E. KRAUS PHOTOS BY ERNIE SAPIRO


3rd Act magazine | winter 2020



ring the bell. A young mother answers, giving me a quick, discreet, but meaningful once-over. She’s just discovered she’s hired a children’s party entertainer who is in his 70s. I enter, the kids surround me, and I start to make coins and sponge balls appear from behind their ears. The children don’t notice or care about my age—and after watching me and seeing the reaction of the party guests, the mother relaxes. Sixty years ago, when I started performing at children’s parties, moms would answer the door, realize they’d hired a 12-year-old, and I’d go through the same, behind-theears, enchant-the-children scenario. My act, whether performed at children’s parties, schools, libraries, festivals, or hospitals, often finds me becoming a clown in front of the audience. I arrive looking pretty much like somebody’s grandfather. About halfway through the show, I begin the transformation. Once I apply make-up and pull the costume over my ordinary clothing right in front of the audience, both kids and parents find me ageless. So do I. There’s a surge of energy and well-being—a feeling of being suspended in the moment—that comes with performing. I didn’t have to wait decades to learn about this. As a teen magic trick student, I studied with Jack Miller, a prominent East Coast magician. The guy was “ancient,” that is, almost as old as I happen to be right now. He looked sickly and suffered from Once I apply multiple health conditions make-up and including arthritis. My pull the costume first thought was: What could he possibly teach over my ordinary me? But as Jack moved clothing right from his role as teacher in front of the to performer, his posture audience, both lifted, the joints in his fingers became supple, kids and parents and he manipulated find me ageless. cards and coins with the grace and skill of a prime-time professional. Watching him on stage, I marveled at the real magic taking place. Not the mind-bending illusions, rather the actual morphing of an aging human into an ageless magician. Over the years, especially if I’ve been suffering from a cold, headache, or even a more serious ailment, I’ve jokingly called out to my wife, Linda, the woman who

So do I.

Aging with Confidence

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| 3rd Act magazine 39

has booked my act since Unfortunately, 1972, “Get me a show!” if you look me up I’ve requested this because on Google, you performing cures, or at may see my age. least temporarily relieves, just about any ailment. I’ve entertained immediately before heading to the hospital for surgery, and shortly after getting stitched up. Within the limits of the doctor’s guidance, doing a show is often more effective than pharmaceutical pain control. In all honesty, Linda does not generally stress my age when booking an appearance. “Experience”—that’s what she calls all the years and thousands of bookings that I’ve had. “Hire him and you don’t get someone who is locked into a set routine,” she might say. “Kids need flexibility, and because of Charles’ extensive experience, he can put together a program that will be just right for your particular guests.” Unfortunately, if you look me up on Google, you may see my age. My age! How did that get there? I’ve tried to have that piece of information removed, believing lots of young parents take note and never bother to call. So far, Google refuses to cooperate. Recently I’ve acquired a pacemaker. It comes with certain restrictions: Stay away from microwave ovens, hold your cell phone at least six inches from the device, and so on. Concerned that my cordless microphone might be on the do-not-use

My age! How did that get there?


3rd Act magazine | winter 2020

list, I consulted the internet. Turns out there was only one possible problem regarding pacemakers and wireless mics. The wireless manufacturer, Shure, noted that pacemakers might reduce the sound quality of their microphones! I guess not everything is a medical consideration. I do make one reference to my age during the show. Biscuit, my dog puppet, gets ready to perform a magic trick. He tells the kids he can guess the age of anyone in the room. Then he looks at me and says, “except him ... I don’t count that high.” Everybody laughs. Charles E. Kraus has performed thousands of library, school, and hospital shows from coast to coast and has been seen on 75 TV shows. He was a member of the Washington Task Force on Child Safety and is the recipient of a King County Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award for Community Service. His books include The Teen Magician ... That’s You! and a memoir, You’ll Never Work Again in Teaneck, N.J.



Aging with Confidence

PegasusSeniorLiving.com PegasusSeniorLiving.com PegasusSeniorLiving.com winter 2020 | 3rd Act magazine 41


ow can we bring more joy into our lives? It’s one Happiness and sadness may cancel each other out, thing to feel joy during the holidays when we but joy is willing to share the stage with sorrow. Even if have moments of gratitude and share kindness I’m feeling depressed, I can rejoice in the sight of a leaf with the world. But how do we find joy when the new year etched in ice, news that a local dog was found alive in a ushers in stacks of bills to pay, overdue tasks, and ravine, or a friend’s unexpected kindness. I may BY a list of pressing problems? cry, but tears and joy travel well together. SALLY Fortunately, joy is not seasonal and doesn’t In 2015, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his FOX depend on feeling good. For me, happiness comes Holiness the Dalai Lama met in Dharamsala, India, and goes with my moods and doesn’t stick around when to explore how to find joy during times that feel chaotic, life becomes stressful or dark. Joy, on the other hand, difficult, and dark. Their five days of conversation were has a more stately presence, inviting me to open my chronicled in The Book of Joy. Both men exude joy through heart while offering a sampling of wonders I might have the twinkle in their eyes, humor, and deep compassion for otherwise overlooked. others. Yet both have known extraordinary pain, as they


3rd Act magazine | winter 2020


witnessed their lives put at risk, their homelands torn apart, and their countrymen and women killed. The two men don’t depend on good news to feel joy. Through their mindsets and practices, they cultivate inner landscapes where seeds of joy can bloom. They live with open hearts, act with compassion, and serve others. They strive to let go of joy-busters like envy, regret, and excess anger. Fortunately, we don’t have to travel to Dharamsala to see examples of people finding, through their compassionate service, joy in times of tragedy. Nancy Soltes is a Gold Star mother who lost her Eradicate eldest son in the Iraq joy-busters, war. Even in her darkest times of grieving, she tend your inner knew her grandchildren landscape, and— deserved joy in their even in times lives, and she worked to find what she could of tragedy—keep share with them. She the door of discovered that, as she your heart says, “bringing joy to others helps everyone.” cracked open. Now she’s curating a book of stories full of compassionate wisdom she hopes will help other Gold Star mothers survive the loss of their sons and daughters to war. Susan Partnow was enjoying an exhilarating encore career teaching compassionate listening and running global citizen journeys when her husband was diagnosed with a severe cancer. Even though the couple was amicably separated, Susan felt deeply called to be at his side and help him recover and deal with the physical consequences of his disease. In stepping into her new role, she experienced each day as meaningful and purposeful, and therefore joyful, even if difficult. Susan knew she was doing what she was meant to do, and her experiences made her feel alive, energized, and attuned to life. If you want to invite more joy into your life, here are a few practices that can open the door:

Laugh more. Both the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu are mischievous comics. Belly laughing can shake up your system, clear your pipes, and help you rediscover the humor in life. Don’t wait for a reason to laugh. Plenty of laughter yoga videos online will capture you with their infectious laughter. Try watching. I dare you not to laugh. Aging with Confidence

Listen to music. Great music flows, teaching us how we can move between melancholy one moment, ecstasy the next. Put on music that moves you. When your mind feels like a caged monkey wanting to escape, try singing or dancing to open up your body. You don’t need joy to sing; singing itself can bring joy. Cherish the small. In a dark cathedral, a single

candle becomes magnificent. When sorrow slows us down and humbles us, it also invites us to discover tiny miracles we might otherwise miss. Our willingness to find wonder invites joy, even when we’re sad.

Practice compassion and gratitude.

These are foundational to finding joy. When our pain leads us to expand our care to others who suffer, our sense of belonging and purpose increases. When we move with gratitude, we create more space for joy.

Let it be. I am well trained in the “push” approach to life, but following the flow offers me a way around joydefeating feelings of entitlement that insist the world should go my way. I don’t always have to like what life offers to remember that joy can live in the shadows. Open your heart. When you feel pain or

jealousy for people whose lives seem easier, practice gentleness and be kind to yourself. “Mudita” is the Sanskrit word for finding joy in the joy of others. Joy can’t reach us when we cower in envy, hide our pain, or numb ourselves to protect our hearts. Beethoven wrote the last movement of his 9th Symphony while suffering a complete loss of hearing. At the piece’s debut, Beethoven stood at the conductor’s stand forcefully gesturing, without being able to hear his music or the audience. (Fortunately, a second conductor guided the orchestra.) By continuing to write despite his tragedy, Beethoven offered us what the world would later call “The Ode to Joy.” Don’t wait for happiness or a good mood to create your Ode. Eradicate joy-busters, tend your inner landscape, and—even in times of tragedy— keep the door of your heart cracked open. Then, when you least expect it, joy will find its way in. Sally Fox, owner of Engaging Presence, is a coach and writer who helps individuals tell their stories and follow their creative callings post-midlife. Read her blog at Engagingpresence.com and listen to her podcasts at 3rd Act Magazine.com

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ON LIFE As a comic and a photographer, Rod Long savors the moment



Rod Long has a way of seeing things. Sometimes it’s the play of light spilling through a passageway in the ancient city of Petra. He somehow senses he needs to turn around, and just at that moment, a woman carrying a translucent white umbrella catches the sunlight—and Long’s camera catches her, freezing time, creating both a memory and an indelible image. Sometimes it’s the play of cascading words, tumbling into stories. A standup comic for 35 years, Long knows when his monologue is working, and he knows when he needs to shift gears. Reading the room, taking its temperature, ready to draw people out but always in a gentle way—until, jackpot, a big laugh.

3rd Act magazine | winter 2020

Long tells stories through his comedy and his photography. Like anyone who’s lived a while, he has plenty of material, yet fate decided he needed some more. In April 2018, just days before his 64th birthday and a few weeks before a longplanned trip to Cuba, Long was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the same disease that killed his father. Fortunately, Long’s fiancée, Kristine Watson, got him to the doctor in time. Long wasn’t in pain, but jaundiced eyes and sallow skin told the couple something was wrong. A CT scan revealed a mass on top of his pancreas, blocking a bile duct. Twelve hours of surgery left Long without parts of several organs, but with a smiley face scar and lots of new stories to tell. Long insisted on going to Cuba. He knew it was perhaps his last chance, both because of


cancer and since the current administration in Washington, DC, is restricting travel to the island. His oncology team at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle jump-started Long’s chemo regimen so he could make the trip. “It didn’t matter that I wasn’t doing that well,” he says. “Once I got there, I was completely energized.” Adds Watson, “He had only had a dose or two of chemo, so he was starting to feel the effects and his hair was starting to fall out. But if you had seen him that day, you’d never known he had cancer. He was his old self.” Long’s mother was a teacher at Leschi Elementary School and his dad worked at Boeing. Often the only black child in his Catholic school classes, he used humor as a way to put people at ease. When he discovered Richard Pryor as a young adult, “everything just kind of flipped in my head. I realized the huge power of making people laugh.” He started doing stand-up on a dare while working as an editor at Petersen’s PhotoGraphic Magazine in Los Angeles. Eventually, his successes included winning the Seattle International Comedy Competition and the Emerald City’s Funniest Person contest,

making two appearances on the Showtime Comedy Club Network, and headlining comedy clubs across the country. In recent years, Long has frequently entertained on cruise ships, doing stand-up by night and using the ports of call to pursue photography by day. That’s how he met Watson in 2012, when she had taken her son on a Bahamas cruise. “As I sat and people watched, this gorgeous man walked up and sat down beside me,” she recalls. “We started talking and we’ve been together ever since.” And now, Long is getting laughs from being a cancer survivor. “It’s all part of the new normal,” he says, pointing to his wispy hair. “I have newnormal hair. Now I know what it feels like to be a white man.” And the cancer meds were no fun, giving him bad, bad gas. “I farted the first 30

Photos clockwise from top left: Rod Long and Kristine Watson at home; two of Long’s fineart photographs; Long onstage at the “Comic Aid” benefit held in his honor last fall. Photos courtesy Rod Long and Stacey Green.

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Julie Fanselow lives in Seattle, writing and editing for clients including 3rd Act and Rick Steves’ Europe. Read more from her at surelyjoy.blogspot.com.


and cannot help themselves. I don’t think comedy seconds of Miles Davis’ ‘Kind of Blue’ in perfect should be cruel. It can be cutting edge, but when pitch last night,” he deadpans. Of course, as a Seattle sports fan, Long knew it cuts to the bone and it’s cruel, I’m sorry. Shock suffering before cancer. Describing a robocall, laughs are not real laughs.” Long loves older audiences he remembers how the because they don’t need to be automated voice intoned, shocked. “They’ve seen enough “This is Life Alert. At your things in their life that they’ve age, the next fall you take already been shocked aplenty. I could be your last. Press one don’t want to do that,” he says. to order Life Alert.” “I want to make them laugh “Now, I’m think ing, as I paint funny pictures with wait a minute. I’m in good words.” shape … well, I did fall Although Long has already one time. I fell in a heap in packed a lot of living into 65 front of my television after years, this Renaissance man Russell Wilson threw that could just be getting started. interception against the He was invited to address New England Patriots in the a meeting of the Pancreatic Super Bowl.” Cancer Action Network in “I said to my oncologist, Florida last fall, and he may do ‘I’m convinced when he more motivational speaking. threw that interception, For Long, photography is a way to cheat time. He teamed with Tacoma that’s when my cancer As he puts it, “When I go filmmaker Randy Sparks to star ted.’ And he goes, back to those images make a feature film, shot over ‘Probably about 10 years before that.’ I said, ‘Let’s see, and I relive those moments, several years before Long’s I’m able to time travel in a illness but now making the maybe a Mariners game?’” weird kind of way …” festival rounds; Long co-wrote Long has never been Rose Colored Shades and stars afraid to take chances in it. And of course, there’s family: He’s the father with his comedy. At a Red Cross benefit shortly of four sons from his previous marriage and he’s after the September 11 terrorist attacks, he said a grandfather now, too. he knew exactly where he’d go if Seattle was Yet comedy will always be there, as will under threat: He’d head for the Experience Music photography, both pursuits that feed his creative Project because Frank Gehry’s building already soul. “I’ve always said comedy is jazz in English,” looked like a plane had hit it. The audience Long muses, recalling the times onstage “where I exploded in cathartic laughter. am completely off the sheet music in my head. I’m He’ll still wade into a bit of political humor, somewhere else, just off on a riff.” Photography is like this: “The truth is that we’re a nation of another way to revel in the moment—and recall it, immigrants, and that’s what makes us great. too. “When I go back to those images and I relive We’re a patchwork quilt and everyone brings a those moments, I’m able to time-travel in a weird different pattern to the table. If everybody had kind of way back to where I was when I made to go back where they came from, the Native that happen,” he says. “In other words, I have Americans would be standing around in empty somehow cheated time. I can look at something casinos saying, ‘Where are all the customers?’” that I captured and I can go back to that moment And yet, Long adds, “There are some places I that I captured it, and that means so much more will never go. I’ll never attempt to make any kind to me as an artist.” of light of someone who is visibly handicapped

3rd Act magazine | winter 2020


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winter 2020

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OTHEVHUMP ER BY DANA BROTHERS Banjo and Tango are head-turners. When people drive by our farm, they slow down, loop around the block, pause in the driveway, and pull out their camera. Camels are not a common sight in the Skagit Valley, so it’s a curiosity to see these large, humped animals calmly grazing in a field. Visitors naturally want to know “Why camels?” They are startled when I tell them it all began with hospice. Three years ago, I left my career, home, and a community that I loved in Eastern Washington and moved west of the Cascades to be closer to medical


3rd Act magazine | winter 2020

treatment for my husband. We’d only been married a few months when he was diagnosed with a rare form of sarcoma, and he needed to immediately begin chemotherapy at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance in Seattle. After caring for him through five months of chemotherapy and radiation, life dealt me another blow: My husband abruptly walked out of the marriage. At 51, I felt unmoored. I wondered if I was on the right path—and how I might fill the open space in my life. I explored other career opportunities and got to know my new community through volunteering. About a year later, I met staff from Hospice of the Northwest at a fundraising dinner. They were honestly the most joyful people I’d ever met! Their dedication to providing end-of-life care resonated deeply with me, and I knew

When Life Threw Me a Curve, a Camel Came to the Rescue



I wanted to be part of this tribe. I was hired! And a few months into my new job, I was tasked with an interesting challenge: Find a camel for the upcoming summer fundraiser. Our theme was Ancient Egypt, and a camel at the entrance would provide an excellent photo opportunity as people entered the gala. I Googled “camels near me” and found Donny Miller, the owner of a petting zoo in Tacoma. He agreed to bring his camel for our event. Around this time, I was four months into a new relationship and invited my beau to attend the event with me. We both dressed in costume and arrived at the same time as the truck and trailer from the zoo. Donny swung open the trailer door and I was shocked at the size of the animal inside. Tipping the scale at nearly a ton, Shawn was a true gentle giant—and, at 11 years old, a seasoned professional as well. This doublehumped Bactrian camel posed with 350 people that evening. After two hours with him, I was smitten, and I knew my life was going to change: I needed a camel. Most people are satisfied to bring home a kitten or a puppy, but saying “I want a camel” adds a whole new layer of commitment to a budding relationship. Luckily for me, my new sweetheart was up for it. “You know, I’ve never seen anyone glow with happiness the way you did with Shawn,” he said. “If you want a camel, let’s go get a camel!” We spent months researching breeders, building fences, and preparing the barn in anticipation of our new addition. One snowy winter day, we brought home an 11-month-old Bactrian camel I named Banjo. Our learning curve was steep but luckily, camels are intelligent and forgiving creatures. With guidance from generous people on a camel Facebook group and new friendships in the camel community, we learned how to be good stewards for this beautiful animal. This February marks two years since Banjo joined our family. My boyfriend has walked alongside me throughout this evolution, and I’m incredibly grateful for his love and support. Our friends and family all thought we were crazy at Aging with Confidence

first, but they can see the joy these animals bring to our lives. Last spring, I bought a small farm and our menagerie now includes a llama, three Sulcata tortoises, and a second Bactrian camel named Tango. And Shawn, that handsome camel I met back in 2017, also stays with us for part of the year, sharing the pasture with his two camel buddies. Living with these creatures has helped me rediscover the connection I’ve always had with animals, and I am grateful my life took such an unexpected turn. Inspired by our animal therapy partnerships at hospice, I’m now training Banjo

to pull a cart; the goal is to offer rides to patients and residents at retirement communities. I never expected to be living this bucolic life on a farm, doing work that I love, but now I can’t imagine anything better. After an unexpectedly bumpy time in my life, a camel helped me find my true connection to the world. Dana Brothers is the outreach program manager at Hospice of the Northwest. Employing her extensive background in teaching to share realities of hospice care, she feels true alignment with the mission of providing compassion and dignity every moment of life. Accompanied frequently by one of her furry companions, Brothers is an engaging public speaker presenting on topics like Advanced Directives, Aging in Place, and Hospice Myths.

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Who’s Feeling Game for


Ask someone what they consider “fun food,” and there are a few standard responses: popcorn and pizza, cotton candy and ice cream sundaes. For me, having a variety of things to choose from, with a variety of flavors, textures, and ingredients, makes me happy. Things like mezes—a selection of small dishes served as appetizers in parts of the Middle East, the Balkans, Greece, and North Africa—or tapas, the Spanish bar treats. So, building on the concept of food “bars”—think tacos or pizza—I offer variations on the theme of staging your own spread. This can be something you can do to feed yourself or a crowd. Given the many options, pick a theme— Mediterranean, Mexican, French, Comfort, etc.—and build on that idea. Or just do what appeals and what you have time, energy, and money for! Here is the basic approach.


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The Base You want something relatively flat that doesn’t aspire to be a sandwich. • Flat breads, tortillas, naan, pitas, flat crackers, or chips • Baked potatoes—either white or sweet • Roasted vegetables— potatoes, eggplant, squash, peppers, fennel The Spreads Look for the many offerings at your favorite grocery store. Trader Joe’s carries a wide selection of delicious premade options. And there are many spreads you can easily make if you have a food processor and the time.

• Tuna or salmon salads • Tapenades—green or black olive • Hummus (there are many to choose from) or other bean spreads: Edamame, lentil, black bean, white bean • Cheese spreads—feta, pimento cheese (PCC makes a fabulous one), pub cheese, flavored cream cheese • Guacamole, tzatziki, spinach artichoke spread

The Toppings These are the things you add on top that provide texture and a hit of flavor: olives, pickles, red peppers, other condiments that seem like fun.


Rebecca’s Famous Cilantro Salsa This recipe has several lives. It starts out as a fresh topping or dip, transitions to a cooked sauce for fish or pasta, and transforms into the base for soup. In a way, it represents the approach cooks have always taken, often at the last minute, to use what’s left in the refrigerator. Ingredients:

1 bunch fresh cilantro, washed 1 bunch green onions or 1/2 red or sweet white onion 6-8 small or 3-4 medium tomatoes—or large handful of grape tomatoes 1/8 tsp. cayenne, a few drops tabasco or other hot sauce, 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes or ½ to 1 jalapeno or other fresh hot pepper—whatever you like that gives a peppery bite to things

with grated cheddar and jack, put another tortilla on top, heat it in the microwave or hot oven for one minute until cheese melts. Cut in wedges and serve as an appetizer. Baked potatoes. Bake potatoes in oven or microwave. Cut open and fluff. Sprinkle some mixture of cheeses (cheddar and feta or jack) over it, heat in oven or microwave until the cheeses melt. Top generously with salsa. Garlic potatoes and cheese. Cut yellow Finn or other waxy potatoes into chunks, and toss with whole garlic cloves and olive oil. Bake, tightly covered in microwave, until soft. Top with mixed grated cheeses. Heat until cheese melts. Serve with the salsa.

Genesis Spread Ingredients:

Juice of one lemon

1/4 cup sundried tomatoes in oil, heated with 1 clove crushed garlic in microwave for 30 seconds

Salt and pepper Directions:

In processor, pulse onion and cilantro until coarsely chopped. Add tomatoes (quartered or cut into chunks), pepper, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Pulse until chopped and blended. Check for flavor. It should have a dominant cilantro taste with a good sour tang and slight hot kick at the end.

Phase 1 — Freshly made Nachos. Serve with chips or over other nacho ingredients. Quesadillas. Spread on a flour tortilla, add the protein of your choice (taco meat, cooked chicken, fresh crab, etc.), sprinkle Aging with Confidence

Phase 3 – Up to four days later Use the salsa as the base for tortilla soup. Heat defrosted frozen or canned chicken broth with the salsa, fresh crushed garlic, and fresh lime juice. After it has heated, top with chopped fresh cilantro and shredded fried tortillas or crumbled leftover tortilla chips. Sprinkle with grated cheese before serving.

2/3 cup green pitted olives with or without pimentos

Phase 2 — One or two days later Huevos rancheros. Heat the salsa in a non-stick frying pan. Gently drop several eggs into the pan, making slight depression for each one. Cook gently until they are “poached,” sprinkle with cheese, let the cheese melt, and serve over corn tortilla. Baked fish. Pour salsa over fresh red snapper and cook in the microwave or broil.

1 cup (or one jar) marinated artichoke hearts ½ cup feta cheese, shredded or crumbled



Pulse all ingredients in processor until smooth. To serve, heat in microwave until hot and bubbly (2 minutes). Serve on sliced toasted baguettes or other good bread. Makes 2 cups winter 2020

| 3rd Act magazine 51


ietnam has featured large in our lives. As boomers, we came of age at the height of a war that divided our country. And while my husband, luckily, was never drafted, the Vietnam War forever changed us and our country. We recently returned from a 3rd Act Adventure to Vietnam, where we learned how it changed Vietnam, too. Led by Overseas Adventure Travel, our group of 16 spent the better part of a month traveling the length of Vietnam, from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), with seven of us traveling on to Cambodia. The experience was humbling, fascinating, inspiring, and sometimes dispiriting. This was a full-immersion adventure into the country and its culture. We experienced the beauty and the poverty, the great progress the country is making, and where they still fall behind. The Vietnamese people we met were open, welcoming, and warm. The level of honesty and connection we experienced was remarkable. We expanded our understanding of the country’s history and culture; we experimented with new foods and flavors; we connected with local people on a human level; and we deepened our understanding of opportunities and challenges facing Vietnam and its impact on our larger, connected planet. We also saw and experienced some of the painful legacy of the Vietnam War (which the Vietnamese refer to as the “American War”). We shared meals and talked with veterans from every side of the conf lict: the South Vietnamese Army, North Vietnamese Army, and Viet Cong. All of them


3rd Act magazine | winter 2020

suffered in one way or another during the war or its aftermath. But every person we met was focused on the future, not the past. We saw evidence of how American bombs, napalm, and Agent Orange not only killed and maimed people, but decimated Vietnam’s wildlife and environment and destroyed ancient temples and historical treasures. Some of it is starting to recover. Sadly, some of it never will. Cambodia’s magnificent historical sites like Angkor Wat were spared by bombing, but their people were not spared by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge’s genocide of the country’s urban dwellers, middle-class, and intellectuals. During our short visit, we focused on seeing the historical sites and unfortunately did not have an opportunity to visit with people who survived the genocide, yet we know that Cambodia’s people are still not out of the political woods. Visiting these countries makes me pay more attention to their history and plight. It also motivates me to stay politically and environmentally engaged in our country. It reminds me how important it is to safeguard our freedoms, and how easily we can slide dangerously close to the abuses and corruption seen in autocratic regimes. Our next 3rd Act Adventure will take us to another region that’s seen strife and genocide in recent history: Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Herzegovina, and Slovenia. The trip is planned for spring 2021. We invite you to be part of our small group as we continue to explore, grow, and learn about the world. See page 57 for details.


Traveling with a small group allows us to immerse ourselves in the country and culture. Here our group is pictured with two Viet Cong veterans who shared their stories during a wonderful homemade lunch at a private home near the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels. These images give just the barest glimpse of what we saw and experienced. We are especially grateful to our O.A.T. guide, Dai, who opened so many doors for us, and also for the bonds of friendship we developed with each other during this remarkable adventure.

Aging with Confidence

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| 3rd Act magazine


New life

in Dubrovnik’s Old Town Croatia, with thousands of miles of coastline on the Adriatic Sea, is Eastern Europe’s Riviera. Holiday-makers love its pebbly beaches, predictably balmy summer weather, and dramatic mountains. Croatia’s top tourist town, Dubrovnik, is deservedly known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” jutting confidently into the sea on the nation’s southern tip. While Dubrovnik’s museums are nothing special, this town is one of those places that you never want to leave. The real attraction here is the Old Town and its relaxing, breezy setting. It’s a multigenerational celebration of life, where everybody’s out enjoying an easygoing stroll or taking a dip in the sea. For travelers, Dubrovnik’s single best sight is the still-stout medieval wall that surrounds this city of about 40,000, offering an unforgettably scenic mile-long stroll above town. While constructed over many centuries,


3rd Act magazine | winter 2020

Within its thick medieval walls, Dubrovnik holds a jumble of cobbled back lanes and sleepy charm.

today’s impressive fortifications date from the 1400s, when they were beefed up to defend against the Ottoman Turks. (These days, many people know these views best from the hit HBO series Game of Thrones.) Jockeying my way between cruise-excursion groups that have descended upon the town (these days about 800,000 cruisers stop here each year), I climb the steep steps to the top of the mighty wall. As I begin a slow, by RICK circular, hour-and-a-half walk around the STEVES fortified perimeter of one of Europe’s bestpreserved medieval towns, I’m bombarded with ever-changing views. On one side is a sea of red rooftops; on the other side, the actual sea. As I approach the Pile Gate wall entrance, I pause to enjoy a full-frontal view of the Stradun, the 300-yard-long promenade that runs through the heart of Dubrovnik’s Old Town. In the Middle Ages, merchants lined this drag; before that, it was a canal. Today this is the main artery of the city: an Old World shopping mall by day and sprawling cocktail party after dark. Farther along, I look down and see a peaceful stone terrace perched above the sea, clinging like a barnacle to


the outside of the city walls. Generously shaded by white umbrellas, this is my favorite Dubrovnik escape, a rustic outdoor tavern called Buza. The name means “hole in the wall”—and that’s exactly what you’ll have to climb through to get there. Filled with mellow tourists and bartenders pouring wine from tiny screw-top bottles into plastic cups, Buza comes with castaway views and Frank Sinatra ambience. Looking inland from my ramparts perch, my eyes fall on a random arrangement of bright- and dark-toned red roof tiles. In this complex and once Dubrovnik’s troubled corner of Europe, even a tranquil Old Town is a stroll around the walls multigenerational comes with a poignant celebration of life, history lesson. After where everybody’s Croatia declared independence from out enjoying Yugoslavia in 1991, an easygoing the Yugoslav National stroll or taking a Army laid siege to this town and lobbed dip in the sea. mortars over the hill. Today, the new, brighter-colored tiles mark houses that were hit and have been rebuilt. At a glance, it’s clear that more than twothirds of the Old Town’s buildings suffered bomb damage. Surveying the rooftops, my thoughts turn to Pero, my B&B host, who spent years after the war turning the bombed-out remains of his Old Town home into a fine guesthouse. Upon my arrival, Pero uncorked a bottle of orahovica (the local walnut liqueur). Hoping to write with a clear head, I tried to refuse the drink. But this is a Slavic land. Remembering times when I was force-fed vodka in Russia by new friends, I knew it was hopeless. Pero had made this hooch himself, with green walnuts. As he slugged down a shot, he handed me a glass, wheezing, “Walnut grappa—it recovers your energy.” Pero reached under the counter and held up the mangled tail of a mortar shell, describing how the gorgeous stone and knotty-wood building he grew up in suffered a direct hit in the siege. He put the mortar in my hands. Just as I don’t enjoy holding a gun, I didn’t enjoy touching the twisted remains of that mortar. Pero explained that he gets a monthly retirement check for being wounded in the war, but he got bored and didn’t

Aging with Confidence

want to live on the tiny government stipend—so he went to work rebuilding his guesthouse. I took Pero’s photograph. He held up the mortar and smiled. I didn’t want him to hold up the mortar and smile, but that’s what he did. He seemed determined to smile—as if it signified a personal victory over the destruction the mortar had wrought. It’s impressive how people can weather tragedy, rebuild, and move on. In spite of the terrors of war just a couple of decades ago, life here is once again very good, and, from my perch here atop the city walls, filled with promise. Rick Steves writes European travel guidebooks and hosts travel shows on public television and public radio. Email him at rick@ricksteves.com and follow his blog on Facebook.

If you’ve watched Game of Thrones, you’ll recognize Fort Lovrijenac as the Red Keep in the Seven Kingdoms capital, King’s Landing. Below: Croatia is best known for its Adriatic coastline, so the fresh seafood is a must.

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| 3rd Act magazine



Lifelong Recreation Programs for ages 50+ • Fitness, arts, education and social opportunities • Hundreds of classes offered at 26 locations across Seattle Call today to receive our new FREE catalogue 206-615-0619

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3rd Act magazine | winter 2020


A m Ou er r p Do ica & Vreviou n’t ietn s tri mi am wps to ss ere Sou th am th is o azi ne ng! .

We’re taking reservations NOW for our next 3rd Act Trip!

Crossroads of the Adriatic Journey with us in June 2021 to Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Slovenia—southeastern Europe’s multicultural lands of forgotten beauty. We are bringing our 14-yearold grandson on this trip. So, consider bringing your teenage grandchildren with you on this memorable and educational adventure. There are no single supplement fees. Our group size is 16 max.

HERE’S HOW TO PRE-REGISTER FOR THIS TRIP: · Call Overseas Adventure Travel Reservations 877-220-2630 · Mention you want to Pre-Register for Crossroads of the Adriatic 2021 with 3rd Act Magazine. · Mention Group Code G1-27967 · Deposit is $350 per person. This deposit is 100% refundable until prices are finalized.

For questions or to request a sample itinerary, email Victoria@3rdActMag.com Aging with Confidence

winter winter2020 2020

| 3rd Act magazine


Laughter on the Menu



hat do you do on gray days to lift your mood and attitude? Are chocolate or cookies calling to you? Rather than consuming empty calories, try feeding yourself some comedy. Some people save favorite recipes; you can create a file of comedy favorites for a diet of sure-fire fun. And just like eating good food keeps us healthy, the science is clear: Laughter is good medicine. It relieves stress, reduces blood pressure, and is a natural pain reliever. Did you know that the two universal, automatic responses to something we find funny are doubling over at the waist (that’s why it’s called a belly laugh) and slapping the table or one’s knees (“a real knee-slapper”)? If you haven’t done either in a while, you’re overdue.

Here are four steps to assure you’ll always have a daily diet of healthy humor.

Know what makes you laugh.

What, or who, makes you double over with laughter, or at least grin? If you aren’t sure, take this online quiz to find out what comedy style you fall into: www.thecut.com/article/whatsyour-humor-style.html

Create a comedy cache.

Save links from funny YouTube videos in a favorites file. Build a list of movies, TV shows, and Comedy Central specials that make you laugh. Check out books of limericks or puns from the library and rediscover comedy writers like Erma Bombeck and Dave Barry.

Involve others!

Social engagement is the number one way to improve health


3rd Act magazine | winter 2020


as we age. So get tickets for two to a comedy club, or go to a petting zoo (funny things happen when children and animals mix). Combine people with laughing and you win every time. And the more you share laughs with others, the more they’ll share things they find funny.

Begin your diet now.

Plan episodes of absurdity by carving out time every day. I start my day with a full plate of farce for 30 minutes, which sets my mood. In the evening, I erase the day’s troubles by spending another half-hour on a fat-free dessert of hilarity. Here are some recommendations for a quick pick-me-up.

Don’t forget to pick up the phone.

Tried-and-true TV shows.

Do you have a good friend who makes you laugh? Then make a point to see them more often. Does reminiscing with a sibling over childhood capers tickle you? Give them a call. Friends and family are often the best medicine. My dad used to say, “If you can laugh through it, you can live through it.” And I’ve never heard anyone say they wish they’d spent less time laughing.

Golden Girls, America’s Funniest Home Videos, Blackish, Ellen DeGeneres, Fresh Off the Boat, Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Steve Harvey, Life in Pieces, Modern Family

Funny movies.

(Find them at your local library, on cable TV, Netflix, or Amazon Prime Video) Grumpy Old Men, The Incredibles, A Night at the Opera, Toy Story, The Best

Exotic Marigold Hotel, Grumpier Old Men, Bringing Up Baby, About a Boy, Some Like It Hot

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


Check out #funnycats, #funnydogstuff, #goatsofinstagram, #funnyparrots


Search for The Marx Brothers, Carol Burnett, Steve Martin, Monty Python

Newer comedians to check out.

Amber Ruffin, Jim Gaffigan, Aziz Ansari

Aging with Confidence

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Want Some Yuks? You’re in Luck Where to find live comedy shows in the Seatle area BY MISHA BERSON

Did you hear the one about the guy who walked into a bar, said knockknock, and took a pratfall? “Laughter is an instant vacation,” opined that great sage, the comedian Milton Berle. And don’t we all love vacations? Especially ones where we don’t have to pack, travel, or do anything but chortle at a joke or guffaw at a jest? Scientists have thoroughly studied the effect of humor on humans and decided the obvious: Laughing is truly good for what ails you, from reducing stress to revving up your immune system. They’ve made a good case for seeking every opportunity to contract a good case of the ha-ha’s. And one benefit of seeking out humorous shows in public spaces: laughter is contagious. Since one person’s funny can be another’s ho-hum, I can’t guarantee


3rd Act magazine | winter 2020

a cascade of giggles from any specific performer or show. But I can suggest some local live entertainment options that aim to stimulate your funny bone. Here is a guide to some of Seattle’s most popular mirth merchants. (Word to the wise: If you are often offended by openly sexual or political humor, call first and ask the box office or venue to describe what you’re in for.) Seattle Theatre Group This leading entertainment organization brings an eclectic array of nationally known comedy acts, from the conventional to the way-out, to its three theatrical venues: the downtown Paramount Theatre, the Moore Theatre in Belltown, and the Neptune Theatre in the University District. A few highlights coming up this this winter: “The Guilty Feminist” with comedian Deborah Frances-White at the Neptune (Jan. 20); TV host of Politically Incorrect and stand-up comedian Bill Maher at the Paramount (Jan. 25); and top improvisational comedy group “Whose Live Anyway?” at the Moore (March 6). For a complete schedule, go to STGPresents. org. More information and tickets are available on the website or at 800-982-2787.

The Market Theater Nestled deep in an alley of the fabled Pike Place Market, this hub for locally produced improvisational shows has kept patrons laughing for more than 30 years. The usual format is tried and true: The cast takes the stage and invites the audience to shout out suggestions that will be woven into spontaneous scenes. But the Market troupes have applied this formula to many different entertainment genres, creating partly improvised ghost and horror tales, musicals, even Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The results, on a good night with sharp www.3rdActMag.com

suggestions, can be hilarious. The company Unexpected Productions, which runs the space, also holds classes for anyone with a yen to take the spotlight—and student tournaments of mirth for them to shine. Theatresports competitions are another staple, held Fridays and Saturdays at 10:30 p.m.. Market Theater, 1428 Post Alley, Seattle; UnexpectedProductions.org, 206-587-2414.

Jet City Improv Another venerable Seattle improv establishment, Jet City’s cozy former movie theater offers the group’s own brand of spontaneous comic combustion. The shows range from the adult-oriented, late-night Mile High Club events to Twisted Flicks, an all-ages laugh-a-thon wherein a cheesy horror, sci-fi, or animated B-movie is screened with the soundtrack muted and new dialogue cooked up on the spot by improvisers. (My 12-year old nephew and I both loved it.) Jet City Improv, 5510 University Way NE, Seattle; JetCityImprov.org, 206-352-8291.

Laughs Comedy Club If you’re in the mood to guffaw in a nightclub atmosphere with a full bar, this popular spot (also located in the U-District) may be for you. Solo stand-up shows by local and touring comedians (many of whom have been featured on Comedy Central and latenight talk shows) dominate the line-up here, but there are “open mic” nights for aspiring humorists too. Note: The crowd in this over-21 setting trends youngish, and the unbuttoned humor is often R-rated. Laughs Comedy Club, 5220 Roosevelt Way NE, Seattle; LaughsComedyClub.com, 206-526-5653

Comedy Underground This club in Pioneer Square offers stand-up, over-21 shows seven days a Aging with Confidence

week, including headliners and local comics trying out their material. Drinks and food are served. Comedy Underground, 109 S. Washington St, Seattle; ComedyUnderground.com, 206-628-0303.

The Rendezvous Open to something out of the ordinary? The unique, atmospheric bar and the intimate Jewelbox Theater tucked into it are quartered in a century-old Belltown building. And they cater to the adventuresome with a mixed bag of entertainment: standup comedy, neo-burlesque shows, comedic plays (including a recent one-woman show about chef Julia Child), adult-oriented puppet jams, and karaoke. It’s quite the humor smorgasbord. The schedule changes from night to night, so look up what’s on each week. Food and drink are served. The Rendezvous, 2322 2nd Ave, Seattle; TheRendezvous.rocks, 206-441-5823

Comedy beyond Seattle A number of local community arts centers present evenings of humorous performance on occasion. In Edmonds, check out EdmondsComedyNight.com. In Everett, there are shows at various venues; get details at EverettComedy. com. In Tacoma, there’s a full menu of stand-up comedy by TV and touring funny folk in a downtown club (TacomaComedyClub. com). Another longtime comedy club, the Parlor Live in Bellevue, closed last spring but comedians occasionally perform in a theater at the Soma Towers apartments downtown (Resonance.events). 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).


EB 2

–F NOV 7

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– MA 6 1 N JA

Ask about the Senior Discount

Issaquah: (425) 392-2202 Issaquah: (425) 392-2202 Everett: (425) 257-8600 Everett: (425) 257-8600 Village Theatre.org Village Theatre.org SPONSORED IN PART BY

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Night Hawks: Stories BY CHARLES JOHNSON


tories are the communal currency of humanity. National Book Awardwinning author (Middle Passage) and University of Washington professor Charles Johnson (profi led in the Winter 2018 issue of this magazine) writes stories that touch the broad scope of human experience and deepen a sense of wonder and mystery. His newest collection, Night Hawks: Stories (Scribner), reflects his limitless creative and imaginative powers, delving into the struggles and desires of characters across historical periods and cultural worlds. All but one were originally written for the Humanities Washington program Bedtime Stories—a venture launched two decades ago to promote literacy and learning. The title story “Night Hawks” invites readers in on the nighttime conversations of two great American writers, Johnson and his dear friend, the revered Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson, who died in 2005 at age 60. The two met regularly at a Capitol Hill café in Seattle for 15 years, and the story gives readers a sense of their wide-ranging discussions on art, religion, politics, race, their families, and their hometowns. Johnson’s dinners with Wilson often lasted until two in the morning. In “Night Hawks,” the two consider the meaning of their lives as artists of color. When their usual café closes, they reconvene at an all-night pancake house. After they witness a bloody fight there between several young black men, the role of their work and shared love of beauty gains clarity. Some stories in Night Hawks require the characters to make

vexing life or death decisions. In “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” a freed black man in the antebellum North travels south to free his wife’s cousin and her infant from slavery. As they flee toward freedom, they are pursued by brutal slave hunters, “soulcatchers.” The man must decide whether to kill the crying baby to save himself and the woman. In “Idols of the Cave,” a Muslim-American soldier in the war in Afghanistan faces the crude racism of his commanding officer and a perplexing enemy. Humor also comes to play. In “The Cynic,” the Greek philosopher Plato tries to communicate obtuse abstractions to mocking students. Eventually, nature ambushes the great thinker with beauty. In “The Prince of Ascetics,” an insanely jealous monk skeptically observes the struggles and eventual apotheosis of a man who has forsaken all for awakening. Seattle provides a backdrop for several stories. The extensively researched “The Night Belongs to Phoenix Jones” features a real crime-fighting Seattle superhero who is joined by a fictional English professor. “Welcome to Wedgwood” is set in Johnson’s neighborhood and peppered with identifiable local haunts such as the QFC grocery store on 35th Avenue Northeast. For Johnson, great stories must contain “a measure of honest hope for the promise of our human species.” Night Hawks exudes wonder and generosity and hope. The aim is to persist— to continue even through the darkest nights.

The aim is to persist— to continue even through the darkest nights.


(Puzzles on page 64)


3rd Act magazine | winter 2020

Endings and Beginnings 6. Finger 1. House 7. Wind 2. Milk 8. Stock 3. Time 9. Place 4. Hood 10. Board 5. Fire

Robin Lindley is a Seattle-based writer and attorney, and the features editor of the History News Network (hnn.us). Email him at robinlindley@gmail.com.

Homonyms 1. Hole/whole 2. Maul/mall 3. Pried/pride 4. Cheep/cheap 5. Mousse/moose

6. Links/lynx 7. Berth/birth 8. Route/root 9. Board/bored 10. Seize/seas

Kangaroo Words 1. Stun 2. Cocoa 3. Can 4. Able 5. Amiable 6. Late 7. Allot

8. Urge 9. Vacate 10. City 11. Tutor 12. Tries 13. Part 14. Fiction


Aging with Confidence

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

Endings and Beginnings (easier) A compound word is made up of two smaller words, such as stopwatch or pandhandle In this game, we provide the first half of one compound word and the second half of another. Can you figure out the one word that completes them both? (If you get stuck, the first letter of the answer is provided in a hint.) 1. Slaughter ________________ keeper

(hint: h)

6. Lady ____________________ nail

(hint: f)

2. Butter ___________________ shake

(hint: m)

7. Whirl ____________________ breaker (hint: w)

3. Bed _____________________table

(hint: t)

8. Laughing ________________ broker

(hint: s)

4. Child ____________________ wink

(hint: h)

9. Birth ____________________ kicker

(hint: p)

5. Cease ___________________ fighter

(hint: f)

10. Card ____________________ walk

(hint: b)

Homonyms (harder) Homonyms are two or more words that are pronounced the same way but have different meanings and/or spellings. In this game, we supply the definitions, and you must not only provide the homonyms, but SPELL them correctly as well. 1. A hollow or empty space; and the entire thing. _______________________________________________

6. Golf course; and a wild cat, sometimes spotted, with tufted ears. _____________________________________

2. Wound by scratching or tearing; and shopping center. _______________________________________________

7. A bed on a train; and the beginning of a life. _______________________________________________

3. Forced something to open using leverage; and dignity and self-respect. ________________________________

8. From starting point to destination; and a part of the plant that is underground. ________________________

4. Young bird’s squeaky sound; and stingy and miserly. _______________________________________________

9. A plank of timber; and wearied and uninterested. _______________________________________________

5. A pudding like dessert; and a large mammal with antlers. _______________________________________________

10. Take hold suddenly and forcibly; and expanses of salt water. __________________________________________

Kangaroo Words (hardest) A Kangaroo Word is a word that contains letters of another word, in the correct order (though not necessarily contiguous), that has the same meaning. For example, the word acrid contains the word acid, and both words have similar meanings. The word expurgate contains its synonym purge. In this game, we provide the longer word. Can you find the shorter one?

1. Astound __________________________________

8. Encourage ________________________________

2. Chocolate ________________________________

9. Evacuate _________________________________

3. Container ________________________________

10. Municipality _______________________________

4. Capable __________________________________

11. Instructor ________________________________

5. Amicable _________________________________

12. Strives ___________________________________

6. Belated __________________________________

13. Separate _________________________________

7. Allocate __________________________________

14. Fabrication _______________________________

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 | winter 2020




Cedar Creek


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