Creative Aging Expert

November 2009

In This Issue


The Positive Aging Conference

"It's been said that the best way to predict the future is to create it, and that's what this conference will begin to do. We at AARP see the aging of America as an opportunity, and positive ageing is the future we want to create." Harry R. Moody, Director of Academic Affairs, AARP

I plan to attend the third Positive Aging Conference in St. Petersburg, Florida, at Eckerd College December 7-9. This conference is upbeat and talks about the excitement of the 20 to 30 extra years of living retirees are experiencing. It focuses on life transitions, creativity, wellness, and community. Keynoters are prominent people in the field of positive aging like Dr. William H. Thomas, founder of the Eden Alternative and the Green House Project; Susan Perlstein, Director of the National Center on Creative Aging; and author Richard J. Leider. View agenda.

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Book Coming Out

My 16 years of retirement have been filled with spectacular adventures in the out-of-doors — a bicycle trip across America, hiking the entire Appalachian Trail, cross country skiing in Yellowstone National Park, kayaking in the Florida Everglades, to name a few. I will share them in a small book, working title: Appalachian Trail Stories and Other Adventures. Five of the stories take place on the Appalachian Trail, two are of my recent nine-day Elderhostel wilderness canoe trip on the Allagash River in Maine, and two describe backpacking trips in Sequoia National Park.

My plan is to have it available in time for Christmas. If you are interested in purchasing a copy, send an e-mail to etkimball@aol.com, and I will inform you when it is available. The price is $12 plus postage.

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Passion and Aging

Heather Hill writes about passion and aging in the Latrobe University Gerontology Association newsletter. Passion is probably the last thing one associates with older people, so I felt it was worthwhile sharing the words of two older women who had led full and active lives, living well into old age, and who wrote of their experiences of aging.

In Florida Scott-Maxwell's book, The Measure of My Days: The Private Notebook of a Remarkable Women of Eighty-Two, passion is a prevailing topic. She writes, "As we age we are more alive than seems likely, convenient, or even bearable. Another secret we carry is that though drab on the outside-inside we flame with a wild life that is almost incommunicable."

Passion is also experienced intensely by Elisabeth Polk. She eschews being "old," by which she means how we stereotypically think the old feel and behave. Instead, she retains her playfulness and enthusiasm, perhaps more so than the young because with age one knows how to savor and enjoy the everyday.

"I am considered an old woman — at least to a stranger looking at me. I can't believe it. I don't feel old. What is 'old?' If I can't laugh, heartily laugh, and enjoy little things that must be 'old' behavior. I look at the fresh fallen, fluffy, white snow and I want to touch it, taste it, and put my face into it. I want to throw snowballs-a big one at a passerby! Is this the proper behavior for an old woman?"

"Can I cry? Yes, but I don't waste my life on trivia. There is so much joy in watching a young mother nursing her baby, watching stars come out, and turning a dark sky into a shiny Christmas tree, watching children running home from school, bursting with energy, throwing their schoolbags at one another. Telling them to stop is for old ladies. I watch and laugh. This is life. Dear God, keep me alive — not just living, and I shall never feel old."

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Doing Less

Are we all supposed to aspire toward "Active Aging?" Maybe not. "Doing less can actually be very hard. Too often we mistakenly believe that doing less makes us lazy and results in a lack of productivity. Instead, doing less helps us savor what we do accomplish...Every day has great meaning, but the meaning can often be obscured by the fog of constant activity and plain bad habits. Doing less leads to more love, more effectiveness, internal calmness, and a greater ability to accomplish more of what matters most to us, and by extension to others in the world." From LESS: Accomplishing More by Doing Less by Marc Lesser as quoted in August 1, 2009, Human Values in Aging newsletter.

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Vacation on a Cargo Ship

Some cargo-ship companies make their freighters available for a limited number of guests traveling to several exotic destinations, sometimes for less money than a conventional cruise. You have your own room, TV and movies, reading and exercise rooms, but no planned activities except for meals. Often on ships with less than ten passengers you share meals with the ship's crew and get a personal tour of a working freighter. Lounging on the deck is very peaceful. However you do share the deck with massive cargo containers! For more information go to: FreighterCruises.com or FreighterWorld.com.

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Dying Happy

This Associated Press article caught my eye. "The husband of U.S. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-NY, has died on a climbing trip in the Himalayas, aides to the congresswoman said yesterday. Clifton Maloney, an investment banker, had finished a successful ascent of Cho Oyu, at 26,906 feet the world's sixth-highest mountain, when he died. He was 71. His last words were, 'I am the happiest man in the world. I just climbed a beautiful mountain.'" What a way to go!

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Words to Live By

I found this bit of advice by Eckhart Tolle a very good mantra for my busy life full of unexpected twists and turns.

Whatever the present moment contains,
accept it as if you had chosen it.
Always work with it, not against it.
Make it your friend and ally,
not your enemy.
This will miraculously transform
your whole life.

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Canoeing Adventure in Maine

This September I joined four seniors age 70 to 80 on a nine- day, 70-mile wilderness canoe trip on the Allagash River in Maine. This adventure was sponsored by Elderhostel and led by Chenowki Outdoor Center staff members, Alana and Colin. The Allagash is close to the Canadian border in the north Maine woods and very remote. It was not unusual to see golden eagles and bald eagles. The soothing call of loons lulled us to sleep. One night a moose clopped through our campsite banging his rack on the trees. The group bonded and the two leaders in their mid-20s were talented and fun. Alana worked as a "personal chef" in her other life. We ate amazing gourmet meals complete with wine and fresh fruit. Colin played his fiddle around the campfire at night singing songs he had composed. We even survived the class three Chase Rapids, but that's another story. To hear more about this exciting trip, buy my book of adventure stories mentioned above.

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Elderhostel Takes New Name

Elderhostel has lowered its age range and taken an additional name, Exploritas. Participation in Elderhostel trips has gone down over the years. They are looking to attract a younger boomer crowd from 45 on up. The average age of current Elderhostel travelers is 65. I can't decide how I feel about this. I often hike with groups where I am 10 to 20 years older than most of the participants. However, I really enjoyed the over 70 group on our canoe trip.

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Upcoming Adventures

In January, several of us from the Richmond Hiking Club are going on a ten-day Caravan Tour of all the environmental hot spots in Costa Rica. A friend and I will remain in Costa Rica another week visiting with Peace Corps friends at their Spanish Immersion Camp. In February, I will return to Yellowstone National Park for a five-day cross country skiing trip with Yellowstone Expeditions. I skied there several years ago and it was the trip of a lifetime. We stayed in heated yurts and skied in remote sections of the park passing close by bison and elk and viewing the resident wolf pack. At the end of the day we soaked in hot springs surrounded by snow. More information about these trip offerings can be found at yellowstoneexpeditions.com and caravan.com.

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