Creative Aging Expert

July 2008

In This Issue


Senior Olympics at Rolling Green Village Retirement Community

A beautiful sunny day in Greenville, South Carolina, ushered in Rolling Green Village Retirement Community's first Senior Olympics event, where I was the after-dinner speaker. The Rolling Green director, draped in a full length toga, jogged around the field with a lighted torch to officially begin the Olympics! Participants played in activities that included golf chipping, pool, shuffle board, cake walks, golf putting, and racing through an obstacle course with challenging opportunities to test their balance. During supper a dance band played and several couples got up to shake a leg. One woman had so much rhythm I complimented her, and she informed me that her upper body was racked with arthritis but, thank goodness, she could still swing her hips!

I was really taken with the spirit of the staff at Rolling Green, a non-profit managed by Life Care Services, LLC. They invited me to speak on Make Your Life an Adventure Not a Chore. Originally a 177-acre farm it was donated by the Greenville Baptist Association for a retirement community and now serves many denominations. They offer a full range of services from independent living through nursing home care. Their Alzheimer's program has a "main street" connecting the two units where clients can "shop" for and adorn themselves with fancy hats, dresses, shoes, and furs from the 1930s and 1940s. For more information, visit rollinggreenvillage.com

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Betty Booker's Retirement Experience

For many many years, Betty Booker was the reporter covering senior issues for The Richmond Times Dispatch. Richmond readers eagerly awaited our Monday papers to experience her interesting and thought-provoking feature stories. We miss her writing terribly; she was never replaced and the paper writes less and less on senior issues. Her retirement was a great loss to our community, but certainly well earned.

My intention when I retired last year from a 34-year career in journalism was to take three months off. After that "vacation" I'd launch into finishing two books I've been dabbling at. Then my husband, Dabney, mentioned this plan to Emily when the two of them ran into each other. Emily sent back a message that her advice was to do no such thing.

Instead, she said, I should give myself ample time to get reacquainted with myself. To hang out, do what I want, do nothing at all if that's what I wanted. Get to know myself as a "retiree" who has this marvelous chance to discover who I am apart from an identity as newspaper reporter and columnist. I could reinvent myself, but only if I wanted to do that. Sooner or later, she said, I'd know how I really wanted to spend my time.

I thought she was nuts to recommend such intentional floating through time. But it turns out she was right. Here's how I knew it: I had a dream in which I was in a large valley filled with people. I was standing on a high hill facing the people wondering what in the world I was going to say to them. Someone said, "It's your turn to speak your truth to the people." "I'm not ready," I said. "You will be," the person predicted.

And I knew then that I needed to take more time before I found the truth I wanted to live and to speak about. Perhaps this story that Emily asked me to write is part of the open truth-telling I so deeply believe in.

For those of you who have great plans for your life in retirement, I've joined Emily in suggesting that you give yourself at least six months, preferably a year or even 18 months, to just be. If your finances permit, don't deny yourself this opportunity. Be yourself. Do what you want to do. Do nothing if that's what you need to do. Give yourself time alone. Your brain will work on revealing to you who you are and what you really value and want to do.

So if you've been wedded to your job, to your hyper-scheduled life, and to your long-range goal-setting, loosen up. You 40, 50 and 60-somethings who think I'm nuts to suggest such a hiatus, I invite you to just consider the possibility of playing awhile. Spend lots of time listening to your gut instinct. It will tell you when you're ready to do whatever it is you want to do.

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More Hot Aging Books

The Transition Network (TTN), a group I wrote about in my May newsletter, has just published a new book, Smart Women Don't Retire - They Break Free: From Working Full-Time to Living Full-Time. Gail Rentsch is the primary author. Reviewers say: "This first book from the Transition Network focuses on the unique needs of women as they explore new possibilities and redesign the old model of retirement which no longer offers the challenges that these women experienced through their careers." For more information, visit smartwomendontretire.com.

Dr. Robert N. Butler, CEO of The International Longevity Center, has recently published The Longevity Revolution: The Benefits and Challenges of Living a Long Life. Reviewer Dr. Ken Dychwald says, "Dr. Bob Butler's Longevity Revolution is truly a masterful piece of work. No individual has done more, here in the US - or throughout the world - to raise awareness of the challenges and opportunities, the fears and hopes of our longer lives. Serving as both physician and philosopher, Dr. Butler brilliantly charts the landscape of an increasingly longer-lived 21st century."

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Great Old Broads

Great Old Broads for Wilderness is a grassroots organization dedicated to wilderness growth and protection. Founded in 1989 in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Wilderness Act "our wrinkled ranks have grown to include men and younger women (Broads-in-training), though the majority of our membership continues to be older women committed to protecting wilderness areas. Today there are Broads of all ages and both genders in every state in the union making their voices heard to protect America's last wild places.

"There are particular advantages to being old and gray (besides the senior citizen discount). We're an anomaly in the environmental activist area and the press and others are curious as to what we have to say. Our approach in this endeavor is the use of a sense of humor and our well-aged grace. Our message on behalf of wilderness may be similar to that of other organizations, but Great Old Broads has the ability to attract the public's interest and attention in ways that other groups cannot. Correspondingly, because we are both older and (presumably) wiser, people give greater deference to our message than to younger environmentalists." Check them out at greatoldbroads.org.

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Internships for Older People

Julie Lopp consults and provides workshops dealing with internships for men and women in mid- and later life. If you think internships are only for students and young people, think again. Julie says that internships for men and women at this mature stage are ideally suited as a win-win for individuals and organizations. Her program The Intern Shop takes the traditional internship and tweaks it to address the current needs of adults in midlife transition. Internships are short-term, part-time, and project oriented. There are many advantages to a midlife internship, not the least of which is trying out workplace conditions that match shifting perspectives about time. To read her full article on the intricacies and steps in the "Outside In" approach or the "Inside Out" approach go to secondjourney.org and click on "Itineraries," then select "Index of Itineraries" and find author Julie Lopp.

Also check out Vocation Vacations, a web site that offers a risk free opportunity to test out the job of your dreams under the guidance of an expert who shares your passion. Always wanted to run a B&B? Work at one under the supervision of an experienced B&B owner and learn what it's really like. More info at vocationvacations.com.

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Interesting Travel Opportunity

Subscribe to the Caretaker Gazette ($29.95) and become a house sitter or a property caretaker. The Gazette lists opportunities in all 50 states and foreign countries where there are empty homes and property owners looking for trustworthy people to live in them as caretakers. Subscribers receive 1,000-plus property caretaking opportunities each year, worldwide. Some of these caretaking and house sitting openings also offer compensation in addition to the free housing provided. Short, medium, and long term property assignments are in every issue of the Caretaker Gazette. For more information, contact them at (830) 755-2300 or visit their web site at caretaker.org.

For additional unique opportunities to travel cheaply go to TheAgingAdventurer.com and order a copy of my Resource Guide for Aging Adventurers.

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Beacon Hill Village Idea Spreads

The Beacon Hill concept was developed by a group of elderly neighbors in Boston, Massachusetts, trying to line up services their insurance didn't cover. A village is not a place but a membership program that helps people stay in their homes by providing support for everything from the medical to the mundane. An annual fee for belonging buys members access to services that are often discounted: someone to cook, clean, do the laundry, fix the air conditioner, pick up groceries, make doctor's appointments, and help them dress or get in and out of bed when they are laid up. Members pay the providers, who often come from the community, but the village staff and volunteers select and screen them and can help coordinate appointments. In some instances the annual fee is lowered for lower income people or paid for out of foundation funds. Members also volunteer to help other members in time of need, bringing a sense of neighborliness and friendship.

This simple concept, which not only builds community but also helps older people remain in their homes, has spread to the formation of Avenidas Village in Palo Alto, California. Outside of San Francisco, Rev. Mary Moore Gaines, pastor of St. James Episcopal Church, has been working for the last year to bring a Village to her Richmond neighborhood. She expects it to open by the middle of next year. For more information, visit BeaconHillVillage.org or avenidasvillage.org.

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Feeling Sad About Growing Older?

A woman in the University of Richmond Osher Learning Center class I addressed on the subject of Creative Aging, admitted that she felt pretty depressed about turning 60. All she saw ahead was gloom and doom - a slippery slope into oblivion. Older people she was acquainted with didn't inspire her about aging. I suggested she seek out some positive role models, and mentioned that she had 20 more years of healthy living ahead of her in the Third Stage of life. I told her about a Yale University study that concluded that people who bought into the cultural stereotypes of aging - loss of pep, things get worse, you are less useful and less happy - died 7 years sooner than those study members who rejected those beliefs.

My comments didn't seem to hold water with her, and other class members chimed in to say that they had held similar thoughts about growing older. My main negative feeling about aging is a sadness that my remaining years on earth are limited and that makes me want to live them in the fullest way possible, but I realize, not everyone sees it this way.

How are you feeling about growing older? If you care to share your thoughts, please send them to etkimball@aol.com and I'll summarize your replies in my next newsletter.

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Young@Heart Chorus

The recent documentary film on the Young@Heart Chorus is a must-see. If it doesn't come to your local theater, see if you can rent it. This Northampton, Massachusetts, chorus of older people - many in their 80s and 90s - says so much about positive aging and staying involved, even with infirmities. One of the lead soloists belts out his solos with an oxygen tank nearby! Members come and go through hospital bouts and various illnesses, but the chorus goes on performing around the world - singing jazzy numbers that will have you taping your feet. One particularly moving scene takes place in the courtyard of a prison. Many prisoners are wiping tears from their eyes, as were many audience members (including me!) who were inspired by the tremendous joy and courage of this wonderful group of older people. Learn more about them at youngatheartchorus.com.

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Emily Kimball
3220A West Grace Street
Richmond, VA 23221-1306
(804) 358-5536
Fax (804) 358-2415

web: TheAgingAdventurer.com
email: etkimball@aol.com