Escaping brand names while you travel

Country living, Norway

With a global economy and a growing number of people from developed countries traveling to other countries, sometimes the modern world looks the same no matter where you are. With widespread immigration, residents of many European countries and the U.S. are sometimes indistinguishable. Just as people from every world ca live in our city, they also live in every city in Europe. Everywhere we’ve traveled, people have been friendly and helpful. So even courtesy is a common attribute, not that I’m hoping to find a corner of the world filled with snarky citizens just for the sake of a having different experience. And everyone speaks English, many better than we do.

There’s also the widespread popularization of many food items — pizza, caesar salad, pasta, and hamburgers for example. And Starbucks, McDonalds and other global corporations born in the U.S. are found in many parts of the world.

Fashion designers also rule the planet, at least that’s how it seems when you’re visiting large cities anywhere.  Go to Madrid, Paris, Stockholm, Honolulu, Bruges, Tokyo and Shanghai and you’ll likely see streets or shopping malls infested with stores belonging to the big names in clothing, shoes, handbags and jewelry: Coach, Prada, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Louis Vuitton, Nike, and many more. The most ubiquitous brand I’ve seen is “The Body Shop.” Is there a metropolitan area anywhere that doesn’t have at least one of these stores? When I’m abroad, I’m on a quest for Old World Charm, not skin care products that I can buy a few blocks from home.

Stave church, Norway

In the current era, what sets one city apart from another? Architecture is one element. Gothic cathedrals, residences, city halls, and museums in Europe; pagodas and temples and country houses in Japan; emperors’ palaces and a great wall in China; interesting bridges in many cities; and private residences everywhere.

It’s embarrassing to remember that when traveling to Europe soon after college graduation, three of us landed in the central square in Brussels — the Grand Place — on a Sunday. In those days nothing was open on Sundays but churches. Back then, I wandered past the 14th and 15th century structures and thought this had to be the most boring setting in the world, nothing to look at but old buildings.

Residences – Stockholm

These days, old buildings have tremendous appeal. Their exteriors are ornate. They are not temples of glass and steel, and have interesting shapes, rooftops and other features, such as a gargoyle here and a grotesque there.

It’s likely that my impressions that all cities are the same come from staying where the tourists normally stay – in the heart of town.  And tourists generally only spend a few days in each place they visit, so they rarely get anything but a glimpse of what life there is like. Spending several weeks in one place away from the tourist centers of a particular city wouldn’t offer an in-depth experience, but would supplement the judgements and pictures that form in our minds when passing quickly through town. That sounds like a plan for the future: visit a large city, stay for more than a week in a neighborhood outside the central part of town and hope not to encounter The Body Shop.

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Tourists, tourists, tourists, when will they stop coming?

This past month is the longest I’ve gone in 10 years without producing a blog.  I have a good excuse for June, namely, that my husband and I took a three-week trip and returned tired and jet-lagged, sneezing and coughing. But for much of May, I stayed away because I’d run out of ideas, one pitfall of choosing early on to write on somewhat random topics instead of focusing on one, such as fitness, fast cars, or cute pets.  But since I’m not an expert on anything in particular, I’ve enjoyed reading and writing on subjects that caught my eye in newspapers, magazines and books, or ones inspired by conversations, lectures and new experiences.

I’m thankful I have come up with a topic, maybe two or three, but taking the first step to restart is daunting. So far this week, I’ve managed to avoid it by ironing the washed clothes I wore on the trip, weeding much of my yard, and taking naps. However, as of today I’m closing my eyes to any more avenues of escape…except maybe to the kitchen where five chocolate bars, the Sirens of Finland, are calling.

Cruise ship, Oslo

Our trip took us through parts of Denmark and much of central Norway and ended in Stockholm, Sweden. The room in our first hotel in Copenhagen had a tiny wastebasket with dividers that cut it into thirds, one part for paper, one for compostable materials, and one for garbage. This got me thinking about the implications of tourism for many countries and for the environment. I thought about it every time we entered a port city or fjord in which large cruise ships (carrying as many as 4,000 passengers) belched out so many tourists that popular sites were almost inaccessible to them and to anyone else. Tour guides have apps on their phones to tell them how many ships and how many passengers are in town, so they can stay away from the most favored places at certain times of the day.

Little Mermaid from the back

We were part of a group of 25 that traveled mostly by bus (and ferry and train), which also means we affected the environments we passed through, but on a much smaller scale. One of our first stops in Copenhagen was at the site of the Little Mermaid, the bronze statue inspired by the Hans Christian Anderson fairytale. (You can see her without tourists at the link above.) Bus parking lots overflowed, traffic jams abounded and the throng made it difficult to even see the statue (which our guide said is a disappointment to many, because at 4.1 feet tall the Little Mermaid was just that, little). And surely the Viking Ships Museum had more visitors on the day we stopped in than the number of Vikings who inhabited the area over the course of several centuries.

Still, no matter where I travel I imagine that organizations like our local Chambers of Commerce and politicians all want tourist dollars for their cities.  As it turns out, some do and some don’t. Of the 20 places most reliant on tourist dollars for their continued existence, all but a few are islands, including Bermuda, Aruba, St. Lucia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The countries of Spain, Portugal, Thailand, Mexico and parts of Central America, are among those locales that earn up to 45 percent of their GDP (Gross Domestic Product) from tourism.

In contrast, there are also countries that are re-considering the consequences of boosting tourism any further. According to Conde Nast Traveler, among those destinations that “have proposed—or put into place—measures restricting the annual number of visitors” are Santorini, Cinque Terre, Norway, Venice, Zion National Park, Barcelona, Iceland, the Galapagos, Machu Picchu, Mt. Everest, and Antarctica, some because the locals are getting fed up, but many because building new infrastructure to accommodate more tourists would threaten the natural environment.

Also, there are countries that don’t have to worry about setting limits on tourists because no one wants to go there. Some lack amenities, others are hard to get to and others are too dangerous.  This list of 25 includes North Korea, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, and Somalia. Another reason the remaining 21 countries on the list might lack visitors is that no one who has not made a career of studying an atlas has ever heard of them.

I’ve done it.  Blog complete. Now I hear the chocolate in the kitchen calling my name.





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Did you hear about the latest phobia?

You would think that a list of the top 100 phobias, which includes fear of bridges, feet, zombies, buttons, ducks and long words, would have covered the entire spectrum.  But this past weekend I read about a new one not on the list, one fitting for the age of social media. It goes by the acronym FOMO and stands for Fear Of Missing Out.

The problem of FOMO was reported on a psychology website as early as 2015, and made it into “Time” magazine a full year ago. Talk about missing out. I didn’t hear about it until this week. Ironically, just a few days ago a friend sent an email saying that a painting by Jean-Michele Basquiat set an auction sale record for a work by a U.S. artist, and she’d never heard of him. A clear case of missing out. But before learning about FOMO, who knew?

This case would be a good addition to the May 21 “Seattle Times” column by Nicole Brodeur, “Cultural FOMO: the never-ending struggle to keep up,” who identified the latest Netflix TV series, hottest new books on the bestseller list, news coming out of Washington DC, and brilliant moments from late night talk shows as a few of the events that are impossible for her to keep up with.

The big question here should be, “Do we need to keep up?” and the answer often lies in the minds of those hooked on social media. From World of Psychology website, “On social media, everyone’s flaunting what they’re doing, with whom they’re doing it and posts are loaded with exclamation marks!!! With such pressure, it’s no surprise that teens are checking their phone every two minutes to make sure they’re not missing out on anything “’important.’”

But this article doesn’t give adults a free pass.  On Facebook we see our friends vacationing all over the globe, sharing photos of foods from the hottest new restaurants, and attending concerts with the latest and greatest stars. I don’t think the urgency to know what our Facebook friends are doing every minute is there with adults, but if we’ve never been to the places where the fabulous photos comes from, doesn’t it feel –even if just for a moment — like we’re missing out?

If you’re working, your job may require you to keep up with the latest research, news coverage, laws passed, and much more.  The beauty of retirement is that we don’t have to keep up if we don’t want to, though some volunteer jobs challenge that assumption. But where I find retirees susceptible to FOMO comes from reading their friends’ Facebook travel posts.

For anyone on Facebook who feels travel envy, grandchild envy, outdoor adventure envy, or pet envy, advice from the website above may help.
*”Don’t miss out on what’s in front of you.”
*Let go of comparisons. They rarely help.
*Cut back on the time you spend on social media. In most cases, less is better than more.

And don’t worry about being left out.  After a certain age it’s a guarantee you will be. The good news is that it won’t bother you!!! Or will it?



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Alternative medicine?

cannabis leaves drawing created before 1923 and in public domain

Marijuana is so sixties and seventies, we said a few years ago, after voters in our state passed an initiative to permit the sale of it in authorized stores. Who in our generation would be interested at this point in our lives?

A good question, which we tried to answer a few weeks ago. Our story started with my husband and leg pain.  A friend of his offered him a chance to try his marijuana cream, which came from California.  “I felt a nice buzz after I rubbed it in.”

“Hey, I have shoulder pain,” I said. “I could use some of that too. Let’s investigate.”

We decided against visiting the nearby weed store with a Charles Manson-lookalike swinging a sign out front.  We were curious about why anyone would think using him would be a good way to help their brand, but thought that perhaps he brought in just the customers they’re looking for, which would not be senior citizens like us.

We checked on-line and found another store also close to home with a classy website. We couldn’t find the exact product that came from California, but it looked like there were several options. The “menu” included categories of “flower,” topical,” “concentrate” and “edible.” I’d seen many an ad for the store in the weekly community newspaper but the ad never mentioned what the store sold. “Let’s try that one,” I said. “The owners are way more subtle.”

We went straight there. We weren’t the only clients that afternoon.  The others were our age or older.

That day was the store’s first of selling medical and recreational marijuana in two separate spaces on the property, each with its own entrance. Picture a pharmacy countertop with dividers that allow the pharmacist to have semi-private conversations with the patient, and you’ll be able to envision the space.  We showed our “consultant” a photo of the product from California. He said they were only allowed to carry products grown in Washington, but had items with similar ingredients.  He began with a lecture on THC and CBD (I figure if you’re really interested you can look into it yourself) and ended by showing us two gels that were allegedly effective in reducing muscle pain, inflammation, and some other ailments.

We bought two — cash only accepted — for about $50 and rushed home to apply our new medicine to our sore spots.

Next day’s conversation:  “Did you notice any improvement?” “No.”  “Did you?” No.” “How about the buzz you felt yesterday?” “No.”

That’s when my husband remembered one teeny difference between the first and second times he tried the product.  “My friend gave me a coffee beer right after I applied the lotion.”

Coffee beer?  Yep. It’s a new craft brew.

“You don’t suppose the caffeine, which you don’t normally drink, had anything to do with the buzz you felt?”

We’ve returned to using arnica gel. It’s cheaper.

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Happiness eludes most Americans

Ever since Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence and declared that the pursuit of happiness was our inalienable right, many Americans have felt the need to make this pursuit their number one priority. So that must make us a happy lot. Right?

Wrong. In 2016, residents of Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, and Finland ranked highest in the happiness poll. In the U.S., we’ve dropped from third place in 2007 to nineteenth in 2016. And only about a third of us say we’re happy. Among the reasons given by American respondents were lack of social support and the perception of corruption in business and government.

What is happiness?  Do we all agree on a definition? Not likely. But from the “Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life” website we have this definition: Happiness is “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.”

One reason the editors at The Greater Good liked this definition was that “it captures the fleeting positive emotions that come with happiness.”  I believe that “fleeting positive emotions” is part of the definition. We can’t experience joy 24/7, nor should we want to. Experiencing the contrast between happy and sad makes happy moments even better.

There are almost as many ideas on how to achieve happiness as there are raindrops in Seattle these days. Dr. Amit Sood, author of the Mayo Clinic’s “Handbook for Happiness,” lays out a daily schedule of emotional responses starting with “gratitude” on Mondays and “forgiveness” on Fridays, with compassion, acceptance and meaning (as in a focus on what gives your life meaning) on the days in between.

In “Real Simple” magazine, writer Gretchen Rubin offers her own list of ten practical tips for achieving happiness. Among my favorites: “Realize that anything worth doing is worth doing badly. Challenge and novelty are key elements of happiness,” she says. “The brain is stimulated by surprise, and successfully dealing with an unexpected situation gives a powerful sense of satisfaction. People who do new things―learn a game, travel to unfamiliar places―are happier than people who stick to familiar activities that they already do well.”

Another one worth mentioning: “Don’t insist on the best.” Rubin says those who struggle to make the best decision, “expend more time and energy reaching decisions, and they’re often anxious about their choices. Sometimes good enough is good enough.”

Finally, it’s comforting to know the quest for happiness is not as strong in all cultures as it is in ours.  British writer Ruth Whippman says her countrymen are not nearly as obsessed with finding happiness as we are. Since the quest isn’t producing the results here we’d like, maybe we should emulate the British and pursue some other goal.

Whippman shares a World Health Organization report that says while Americans are not the happiest, we are the most anxious. Well, at least we get a first place in something.

If happiness is our goal but only a third of us are happy, perhaps we’re aiming for the wrong target. Whippman cites University of California, Berkeley studies showing “the higher the respondents rated happiness as a distinct personal ambition, the less happy they were in their lives generally and the more likely they were to experience symptoms of dissatisfaction and even depression.”

Whippman’s article is both telling and laugh-out-loud funny, but she’s also been biased by her setting.  She calls Silicon Valley her home in the U.S. and spends perhaps too much time with techie’s wives obsessed about whether they’re enjoying the lives they could/should live.

PS. I recommend checking out each of the links above. All have useful and/or interesting information and ideas about happiness.

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Forbidden fruits

These days, deciding what goes into making a healthy meal requires serious study…and a certain flexibility about “the latest” research.

A recent issue of “Time” magazine listed twelve foods we should eat (taken from their list in “Time 100 Healthiest Foods”) and gives reasons why they’re good for you. The foods are whole eggs, edamame, grass-fed steak, quinoa pasta, romaine lettuce, whole-grain bread, blackberries, figs, potatoes, acorn squash, almonds and corn.

I have no arguments with the list, except that it’s so 2017 and surely by 2018 one of these food items will be pronounced “unwelcome on any list” and replaced by something currently on the don’t-even-let-it touch-your-lips list.

I looked up Weight Watchers original diet plan and found these “forbidden fruits”: bananas, cherries, watermelon and grapes. Vegetables considered “restricted,” included Brussels sprouts, carrots, eggplant, green beans, yellow squash and tomatoes. Do you know anyone who got fat because they ate too many tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, grapes or watermelons?

Many websites name the villains of the past that have now been absolved of the sins formerly attributed to them.  Anything with fat — think avocados, salmon, butter and nuts — was a no-no. And cholesterol?  Eggs would kill us. And potatoes?  Everyone knew they loaded on the pounds.  Same with whole milk. Yet some research credits whole milk with keeping people lean. I have changed from watery non-fat to two percent, but drinking whole milk still seems sinful.

In the past, one of the biggest health offenders was chocolate. It’s not completely redeemed itself, but I’ve read that we can eat dark chocolate with at least 74% cocoa solids without being chastised for crimes against good nutrition.

Last year, I read that mustard greens had risen to the peak of the best vegetables list. What a blow to kale, which had been number one for years. It’s so hard to stay on top in any field these days.

In the current era, to quote my family doctor, “Gluten is the new Satan.” Not to say that some people don’t suffer if they eat it, but that many who studiously avoid it probably don’t need to.

So what’s a cook to do? I think we can assume that fruits and vegetables aren’t going to kill us or add too many extra pounds. As far as the other food groups, we have to go with what we know now, realizing that in a few years we’ll see headlines naming our favorite food as the latest miscreant. For now we have to take all this nutrition information with a grain of….no…wait…not salt!

Meanwhile, I’m waiting for the study that lands chips and salsa on the healthy food list.

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Who inspired you?

my bad photo of my good photo of Guanajuato, Leon, Mexico

Who helped you find a direction, got you thinking along different lines about your future, and built your confidence along the way?  I am at the stage of life where I enjoy looking back and attempting to answer these questions. It makes me realize how fortunate I have been at every period in life to meet someone who pushed me to try something new or influenced my life choices.

I was inspired to write about this topic by an essay by Dr. Nobuo Haneda in his book “Dharma Breeze.” He named three sources of inspiration that led him eventually to his position as director of the Maida Center of Buddhism in Berkeley, California. Two out of the three  — one being famous Russian writer Leo Tolstoy — were not people he had ever met.

For the sake of keeping readers from using this blog post as a cure for insomnia, I’m going to limit myself to only a few examples of those who provided the inspiration — or a kick in the behind — to me.

I don’t remember the name of the first one I thought of. He was known as the Colonel. I met him while working in a low-paying, dull job in a college admissions office to save enough money to travel to Europe. We couldn’t have been more different. I was twenty-one, going through my hippie stage, and he was much older. He came across as stiff and formal. Four months later, after quitting my job and going to Europe, I returned home to visit the people I had worked with, including the Colonel. I had no more than greeted him when he said, “I imagine you need a job. There’s an opening for a much better-paying one at the community college.  I know people there. If you’d like, I’ll call now and give you a recommendation.”  This unexpected gesture of kindness helped set the course for my future as an administrator in public education.

Keeping with Dr. Haneda’s experience of choosing authors for inspiration, I choose Betty Friedan as my second infl. She was a leader of the feminist movement and author of The Feminine Mystique.  Many years later, I don’t remember anything from the book except that she said men could wash dishes too. This was a huge revelation. My husband and I were living together at the time but not married, and I did the housework.  She helped form the basis for a forty-five-year (so far) marriage in which we now actually fight for the job of washing dishes.

my bad photo of my good photo of Guanajuato, Leon, Mexico

My third choice is my husband’s Spanish teacher at the University of Washington. He signed up for her class after we’d taken a trip to Mexico.  At the end of the school year, she convinced him that his language skills would improve faster if he immersed himself in a Spanish-speaking culture. I had taken Spanish for five years in junior high and high school, so I was game to join him for this experiment in immersion. We spent a month in a language school in Mexico and lived with two Mexican sisters. The next few summers we chose a school in another town and lived with a woman and her children, someone we still consider a sister and keep in touch with today. Thanks to the Mexican adventure we made friends in Texas and California, and have had Mexican guests visit us here. I was able to use my Spanish skills on the job and made many new friends through my work with Spanish speakers.

Remembering the people who impacted your life is a worthwhile activity.  I’m still smiling as I think about those summers in Mexico and all our adventures there.



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When it comes to aging, attitudes matter

In 2009, 100,000 American women, middle-aged and older, demonstrated that when it comes to health and aging, our attitudes matter.  Those with a more hopeful outlook on life (optimists) were less likely than those with a more negative view of the future (pessimists) to smoke, or suffer from diabetes, depression or high blood pressure. And the former “lived healthier and longer lives.”

From another study, at much greater risk were younger people “with a high degree of cynical hostility…a deep mistrust of others.”

So says Dr. Hilary Tindle, researcher and author of “Up — How Positive Outlook Can Transform Our Health and Aging.

The New York Times reviewer praised the book as “not simply another self-help book, but a thought-provoking and intelligent read.” As an optimist, I didn’t spend much time on the self-help part of the book; I was more interested in the “thought-provoking” piece.

The author divides aging into three parts (consider my summary a grave oversimplification):  wrinkles and slumping posture; deterioration in the brain; and changes in the cells of all our organs.  All in all not a picture to promote optimism. The good news is that while the skin is not likely to lose its wrinkles, we still have a chance to effect changes in other body parts.

Before I was willing to believe anything else Tindle said, I needed to know what she meant by optimism. With this quote she convinced me to keep reading. “Optimism shares very little with those bumper sticker mantras, which seem to be unrealistically optimistic.”

It seems that if we want to age well, we have no choice but to nourish a positive outlook. The prescription?  A significant element comes back to my last blog post:  keep moving. “Research on mice and men (and women) has demonstrated physical activity’s clear benefits to our brain, both for helping us manage negative states of mind such as anxiety, sadness, and addiction cravings, and for improving memory long term.”

In addition to getting exercise, Tindle says we need to sleep, spend time in open green space, and maintain a social support network. For readers whose genes and traumatic early life experiences make it difficult to change perspective, “Up” has many specific strategies for steps to help pessimists move farther along the scale toward optimism.

After reading the book, I still struggle with the reality that I am optimistic about my future and pessimistic, even a bit cynically hostile, about the future of our country and of many people less fortunate than I. But I tell myself to stay focused on healthy aging, especially to keep moving, for I won’t be of any help to others if I don’t.



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Keep moving

Courtesy of Exercise zones, Fox and Haskell formula by Morgoth666 in Creative Commons Share-Alike

“Keep moving.” That’s my new motto. I want it to apply to everything in my life, starting with exercise.

I’ve shredded my list of fitness goals since my first Fitbit fell off my wrist and an essential plastic piece in my second Fitbit broke. I don’t worry about walking 10,000 steps a day, or the 15,000 that  a University of Washington research team is now touting. I don’t want to count minutes or steps. I just want to keep moving.

There are plenty of good reasons to live the motto. When you Google aging and movement, you get the following titles (and many more):  “The Biggest Anti-Aging Secret on Earth? Moving Your Body;” “Aging Intelligently: Use your brain; Move Your body;” “Moving Your Body is Good for Your Mind;” “Exercise and Aging: Can You Walk Away from Father Time?”

Father Time will always catch up to us, but the study on which the latter article was based showed that the following improvements could occur with exercise that increases your heart rate and breathing:
*decrease in heart vessel and heart muscle stiffness,
*decrease in resting heart rate and blood pressure;
*increase in metabolic rate;
*decrease in body fat and blood sugar;
*increase in quality of sleep; and
*decrease in memory lapses.

 “Keep moving” is a prescription for healthy aging that extends beyond the physical to the mental/emotional side of life. I want to keep moving in my different communities, among my friends, continue to explore interests and feed my passions, all of which require taking action.

None of this is news. The issue is how to keep moving even as your body or brain tell you it would be nicer to take a nap, sit down with a book, or watch that miniseries you recorded last week. Nothing wrong with these options, except when they replace movement.

However, I’m finding that it’s so easy to slow down or even better, do nothing. Last spring, I walked three or four miles, five days a week.  Then we went on vacation.  After we returned, one hip started to hurt, and that was a good excuse after the vacation broke the routine, and the daily walks became weekly walks. I’ve returned to walking more often, but I know how fragile the relation between exercise and me is.

Since I retired, I’ve found it’s nice to slow down a little.  I like to begin the day with the cat on my lap and a cup of tea in my hand and work in other activities later in the day. I have fewer goals and write more grocery lists than things-to-do-lists.  Yet going too slowly has its risks, and that’s where constant reminders to keep moving come in.  It’s an easy motto to remember. I’ve written it on sticky notes and posted these in places where the temptations are overwhelming to read one more “New York Times” article about our failing political system, check “like” on another Facebook post, search for that chocolate bar I hid a few weeks ago, or lie on the couch with my eyes shut and wonder what to fix for dinner.

Once the sticky notes are unstuck, I’ll just write “Move.” That’s all I really need to remember.






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Why we need older friends

Flagstaff Gardens, Melbourne, Australia, photo courtesy of Wikipedia Creative Commons

Earlier this week, I watched three buses from an elder housing community pull out of the parking lot near a theater where we had just seen a play. Ah, so that explained the presence of so many eighty-somethings in the audience.

It was an easy leap at that moment to imagining a time when I will have less control over my life, just as this older crowd seemed to. Will I ever live in a facility like theirs, have to be chauffeured to entertainment with others who live in the same setting, and build my social life and group activities around them?  Would I still see old friends who weren’t residents there or would my life center around “The Home.” (A group of friends and I joke that we’re going to establish our own version of “The Home”.)

Everyone I know wants to live independently forever. But watching the older adults as they exited the theater and boarded their buses, I became very aware that aging takes different forms.

What people need are older role models. I’m serious. What better way to learn about next stages in life than from those who are living them?  The fastest growing population in the county where I live is the eighty-five and older group.There must be plenty of people to look up to and model myself after right now. I have good friends aging along with me and a few older ones. It’s time to ask them what they’re thinking about as they age and what changes they’re experiencing, no matter how subtle.

My best — though atypical — guide to the future is Eleanor at ninety-six. She has as much spark and energy as she probably had when she was forty. Something about her high level of activity and involvement in many projects tells me she’s not yet concerning herself with what will happen next.  She’s decided she wants to live to 101 and I’m confident she’ll make it at least that far. I hope she lives longer.

March 20 Addendum: I can’t believe I forgot to bring up another role model, my 85-year-old yoga teacher, Joyce. I will never have hamstrings as limber as hers. Some of my classmates have been studying with her for more than twenty years. Now that’s loyalty and proof that she’s a good teacher.  She’s studied with some of the best and never pushes.  “You’re in charge of your body,” she says.  “If it hurts, don’t do it.”









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