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Ageless Aging news - September
September 05, 2014

It is always a joy to send off this newsletter to you. I hope you find it useful or encouraging. .

1. A clarification. When I use the word 'old' I mean it in the chronological sense, not the social role sense. (For the latter I use the term elder.)

I say this because last month I asked each of you "What sort of old person do you want to be?" Some readers were upset - did not want to use the word 'old' since they were thinking of its social role sense and they do not like the current roles for the old in many parts of the world. (I don't either.) .

I was surprised at the reaction. So let me clarify. At age 79, I am old. [Chronological sense]. I have exceeded the expected life span for women in 143 of the nations of the world!

Now the social role sense is a whole other thing. I am aware that I have entered into what I call 'the second stage of elderhood'. The shift from stage one, to stage two has, like the shift from childhood to adulthood, had its times of angst, euphoria and for me almost daily challenges. But I think I have made the shift and am living/working from a different place than when I started this web site/newsletter. .

So - to summarize. I use 'old' in its chronological sense and I hope that each of you will grow old. As for your social role, that is much to be worked out if you live in a place where Elderhood is not well rooted, I hope you will find and study some good role models.

A book, a book

2. For some months I have been watching YouTube videos of Alice Herz-Sommer, a centenarian, musician and holocaust survivor. (Yes, I watch a lot of videos of centenarians. I feel I learn from each one and it is lovely to have someone 'out there ahead of me.) .

Well, I recently learned that there is a book by Caroline Stoessinger, A CENTURY OF WISDOM, Lessons from the Life of Alice Herz-Sommer.

I got a copy through our library and I am entranced. I heartily recommend this BOOK. It has offered me a path, a vision.... and practices for the ensuing years. I am deeply grateful to the author for writing this book - as well as Alice Herz-Sommer for pointing a way for growing old with LIFE. This book has formed a 'crowning stone' for me. Over the last 8 years, I have read ancecdotes by researchers from other countries where elderhood is a firm concept.They share stories about the lives of their old uncles or grandmothers. And I often read the Seven Indigenous Grandmothers web site. Again and again I realize that there is a glory and meaning in elderhood (old age).


(Note: The Indigenous Grandmothers are having a special sessionn right NOW in South Dakota (USA) and I think some of it may be available via internet if you want to check it out. ) we need guides at this age, just as we did when we were moving into our adult years. The Indigenous Grandmothers offer gatherings and learning events. The biography of Alice Herz-Sommer reveals daily practices and so it, too, can be a guide.

I encourage you to sit in the presence of some great elders for a bit of time each month. You will be encouraged and get glimpses of what might work for you when you reach a similar age. The old are more than objects of care. They can be our guides if we but see it and give up the idea that we shall remain just as we are now for all the years of our lives.

And you ?

I know that many receiving this newsletter are in the first stage of elderhood - developing new parts of yourself, learning, exploring, feeling 'I do not want to even THINK about old'.

So, Alice Herz Sommer and the Indigenous Grandmothers may be 'just what the doctor ordered' because they, like so many others have made transitions and live meaningful lives - even in old, old age..... well into their 100s.

So, I again ask, what kind of old person do YOU want to be?. Without a clear vision, you can never get there.

Here are some THINGS TO DO when old.

1, If you want to develop, retain physical skills there are lots of groups out there. (In the United States, for example, there is a club/association of people who learned to ski after age 70.) Look around. It is easier to meet goals if you can be with colleagues (why we developed schools and colleges). .

2. If you want to travel, decide where and how (luxury? shoe string?) Again there are web sites and companies to help - now even wheel chair travelers have special travel companies. I have friends who have been Russia, Latin America - all inchairs. If you want it, go for it. .

3. Do you want to learn? Thousands of opportunities - college and community groups are ready to help. (There are pages on the web site about elders and college.) And of course there are the arts - to draw, paint, dance, sing, write. And there are both online and local teachers.

4. Want to give back? Elders are the back bone of volunteering - from those going to far off places to those tutoring or delivering meals to local shut ins. .

5. Want a job? Need to earn money? See the web site for ideas.

6. Want to investigate your family tree? Write your life story?

The list is endless of THINGS to do. Still, there is a deeper question. What sort of PERSON do you want to be? Some one unwilling to 'grow up' or let go of childhood or adulthood? Someone so positive that others feel better for being in your presence? Someone with a grateful heart? Someone who sees the hidden good in all? Someone creative? If you are interested in exploring these last aspects, I think that Alice Herz Sommer could be a good teacher - since the biography by Stoessinger details just what she did to become who and what she was. .

Thanks for reading. Til next month....


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