Tag: boomers

Aging in Place

Aging in Place

“Aging in place” is a growing trend among the members of the boomer generation. I’m not sure whether the trend was spawned by watching how our parents chose to live out their elder years, economics, or just personal preference, but more and more people are choosing to stay in their homes for the foreseeable future and making plans accordingly.

My husband is in the  home modification and renovation business and has been for better than 20 years. He is seeing how this trend is playing out in his customer’s lives. One by one, those who have relied on him over the years for home improvement advice are now turning to him for guidance on home modifications that will help them prevent falls and improve mobility as they age.

COMMON MODIFICATIONS:

  • Adding Handrails
  • Ramps
  • Wider door openings
  • Bathroom renovations
  • Reworking cabinets and closets for easier access

In addition to the growing availability of products and design features for aging in place, there are increasing numbers of individuals and companies providing the necessary support services. My husband, for example, recently went through an extensive training program that is provided by the National Home Builders Association to become a Certified Aging In Place Specialist (CAPS). This is a nationwide program that not only gives service providers the expertise they need, but gives the consumer confidence when hiring someone to make their important home modifications.  On the NHBA site you will find a directory where you can locate a CAPS professional in your home town.

As I learn more about the details and options for successful aging in place, I will share it with you in this little corner of Aging Abundantly. Please let me know what questions or concerns you have about the aging in place option and I will do my best to address them here or I will refer you to another site.

The Fear of Love

The Fear of Love

We have all been wounded.  Many of us bear the deep scars of a less than perfect childhood. Perhaps our parents didn’t, or couldn’t love us the way we needed to be loved, alas, the way all children deserve to be loved. Or, maybe another person or experience left a mark on our psyche or heart so painful that we put in place cleverly devised layers of protection to keep us safe from future harm.

Self-protection has its benefits, but it also has its dangers. The longer we live and the more we have loved and lost, the more likely we are to be weighed down by our own cleverness. We may even feel smug about our ability to “carry on” in spite of life’s eventualities, or to turn the other cheek with increasing ease. We may, in fact, simply be numb.

If you look into the face of an innocent child who was loved into awakening, you will see the wide-eyed innocence of easy trust, acceptance and love…a love that flows freely without boundaries or limitations or expectations.  That once was us.

We may never be able to go back to the point of perfect innocence, but if we dare, we can choose to stare down our fears, choose to open our hearts and choose to love again.  We can decide to no longer let the past control our willingness to open our hearts today. We have surely reached the point in our lives where we can trust our ability to survive hurt and loss. We have done it many times before. We may know the pain that open, trusting, unsuspecting love can bring, but we also know its deep abiding  joy and life-giving power as well.

We owe it to ourselves and to those who come into our lives today to keep taking the risk to love and be loved. It is the only real way to know the fullness of life. After all, as the song says, “it is the heart afraid of breaking, that never learns to dance”.

 “The Rose”

Some say love, it is a river
that drowns the tender reed.
Some say love, it is a razor
that leaves your soul to bleed.
Some say love, it is a hunger,
an endless aching need.
I say love, it is a flower,
and you its only seed.

It’s the heart afraid of breaking
that never learns to dance.
It’s the dream afraid of waking
that never takes the chance.
It’s the one who won’t be taken,
who cannot seem to give,
and the soul afraid of dyin’
that never learns to live.

When the night has been too lonely
and the road has been to long,
and you think that love is only
for the lucky and the strong,
just remember in the winter
far beneath the bitter snows
lies the seed that with the sun’s love
in the spring becomes the rose.

Living From Our Heart

Living From Our Heart

“My flame burns brightly. I live in integrity with myself and my God.                                                 I am not the sum of what you think of me.

I am who I was created to be and work daily to continue to be more                                                 and more of that wonderful creation called me.” 

Affirmation by Jill Davis

 

Living from our heart seems to be a difficult thing for most of us.  Our pure, honest voice, lost or muffled in infancy, has been replaced with a façade cobbled together to create someone who is acceptable to the world. We like to think the face we present to the world is real, but it rarely is. From the time we take our first breath we modify our behavior, our thoughts, and our reactions in an attempt to please and appease our care providers. We need them to stay alive and healthy, at least initially. Our natural survival instinct drives us to gain the attentions of those responsible for our care.

The lucky among us had care givers who not only recognized but were able to reflect to us the unique gifts and individual character traits with which we were born; care providers who fostered, nurtured and created a safe environment within which we could bloom and flourish and become ourselves. Real. Honest. Fearless.

Most of us were not so lucky. To one degree or another, those charged with our care hammered away at our uniqueness attempting to diminish traits not to their liking.  They could not see or ignored important gifts that make us who we truly are. In the process, we understandably lost sight of where we began, and forgotten who we truly are.  What remains is a pseudo-self that we present to the world and believe to be who in fact we are. We wonder why we feel out of step with ourselves.

Underneath the mask, the real, true and honest us still exists.  Waiting.  Ready. Willing to be freed, to live and breathe and find expression. It is our job, particularly as we age, to remove the mask we may have created to survive, piece by piece, bit by bit and to rediscover our birthright.

Too often we simply create a new mask to replace the old one, thinking that it will cure our dis-ease. We whittle away at our bodies, using diets, exercise, and plastic surgery to create a more perfect image of ourselves. We launch off on new careers, leave our spouses or significant others, sell our home and take to the road in search of better life, a better way, a better us. We look outward for the answers and find a temporary fix.

If we are not careful we can go on this way until our days on this earth are done and never have sung our song, for we are looking in the wrong place to find our truth.  Our truth lies within us, and will always be found in the recognition and acceptance of who we are inside of ourselves, in our souls. It is only when we find that place that we can begin to live in integrity with ourselves, with our God and with the world. Then, we will know the meaning of our lives. The, we will know peace.

And What is your Truth….

And What is your Truth….

by Nicky Perryman ~ Textile Artist

Words float in my head, unbidden, wandering trying to go somewhere. Like me. Phrases lurk in the shadows looking for a home, a purpose, a connection to something, somewhere. Like me. Beauty rests somewhere unfamiliar, somewhere in yet to be charted territory. Peace and tranquility. Joy. Meaning. Purpose.

The truths of life are the same, from one to another. The real truth crosses all boundaries of time, space, creed, nationality, age and utters its whisper softly and gently to all who listen. I raise my head from a pillow of tears just long enough to look into the eyes of truth and then turn away. Frightened of what, I do not know.

Our truth connects to a bigger whole should we be fortunate enough to find it. When removing the gauze of indifference, or fear, from our eyes we may look upon the face of God…of truth…of that which gives life and takes it when it is ready. Truth is etched upon the hearts of women throughout history, before, during, now, and future times. A string runs through our lives connecting one to another drawing us in, weaving us carefully into a patchwork quilt that is life.  There is no beginning, no end, only now and eternity.

Our lives are our own and yet they are not. Our lives belong to the universe, to the whole, to the patchwork quilt. What we give of our truth will find its way into the pattern, into the beautiful, kaleidoscopic tapestry of eternity, bright with colors, shapes, sounds and above all else, love. What we love will be our legacy. How we love will be our truth.

Its written across the pages of history that as mere mortals we are called to speak the truth and to love. They cannot be divided. One without the other is incomplete. Find your truth and live it in love and your legacy will unfold bit by bit to find its place in the tapestry of eternity.

A Note about photo: I stumbled across the photo of the quilt and loved it. I have discovered it was designed and made by Nicky Perryman, a textile artist in the UK.  You will find more about her and her work on her website Nicky Perryman Textile Artist.  She also has a fan page on Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nicky-Perryman-Textile-Artist/176159875736012.

Mining the Past

Mining the Past

The past holds many treasures that can serve us well as seek to discover what we are supposed to be doing now that we’re almost old. Not only does it contain the wisdom born of hardship and pain, but it also holds the key to the joy and meaning that has enriched our lives. When we mine these multifaceted jewels, they will lead us on a path of self-discovery that promises to provide us with an instructive map to age abundantly.

I don’t know about you, but I have spent most of my life running from my past mistakes and running toward the future where I believed a better path could be charted. It was an effective method in that it kept me moving, trying new things, and gathering experience, because boy, did I make a lot of mistakes! When I recognized a wrong turn, I chalked it up to experience, buried it as best I could and vowed never to do it again, and kept moving.

Now, however, looking toward the future has lost its appeal as the end of life becomes more palpable.   But there is more to the past than the debris of failure and now is the perfect time to mine it for all the gems it can provide our todays. Setting aside the running to and running from way of living, allows us the opportunity to take a deep breath and begin our search for the joy and richness that only living can bring.

Our past holds treasures personally crafted just for us. They are personal, rich and substantial. They hold the key to hope, gratitude and as yet undiscovered benefits. As we sift through our memory banks in search of these golden nuggets we will find our own personal map to meaning and purpose.

Begin by picking a period of time — a decade, a year or a day — during which you felt particularly in tune with yourself and life. Close your eyes and sink into the memory. Feel it, absorb it, and allow it to fill your mind and senses with all the good things it has to offer. Then ask yourself what was it about that moment that was so special? What were you feeling, doing, experiencing? Can you repeat it in some way today? Can you use it to live happier today?

I spent so many years looking at the negatives of the past and not enough time holding on to its treasures. Today when I closed my eyes and did this little exercise I thought of a time when I was in college. It was summer. Two of my best friends from high school (twin guys*) and my roommate joined up for a series of adventures. We went to watch the Thunderbirds fly over the Long Island Sound, took in a number of rock concerts and had a blast. We just enjoyed each other and had fun ~ no strings attached kind of fun. We laughed. We lived. We soaked up the excitement of the moment.

What I felt during those days was the excitement of doing something new, the warmth of being with people I enjoyed, a sense of freedom, and time in the great outdoors. I had no expectations of myself or my companions other than to enjoy the moment, taking it in, absorbing life and love.

By living for a few moments in that recollection I am able to absorb its teachings for my life today. The experience helped me to realize four things. First, I have forgotten how to live in the moment and to absorb all the pleasure and knowledge it has to offer.  Second, it revealed to me that I place entirely too many unnecessary expectations on myself. Third, I haven’t done anything new and exciting in a very long time and lastly, I realize I don’t spend near enough time laughing with people I enjoy. Just that brief moment of reflection provided me with all the information I need today to make my life more comfortable. Here’s what I can do now:

  1. Learn something new.
  2.  Focus on doing those things I enjoy doing and aside the uncomfortable and unnecessary expectations I have placed on myself.
  3. Call a friend and get together for coffee or a phone conversation.
  4. Share laughter with someone I love.

Your past will undoubtedly reveal something different, something that is uniquely yours, a personal message from your heart. As we begin to use our past as a teacher, rather than a litany of what not to do, we will allow it to blow the breath of life into our todays.  Tomorrow will take care of itself.

* I married the other twin ten years later.

Aging in Cyberspace

Aging in Cyberspace

The internet has offered aging women an opportunity to step out of their solitude and find friendship and advice from fellow life travelers.  It’s a new world.

Art by Annette van der Spuy

Just a generation or two ago, women aged in the comfort of their own home with children, grandchildren, brothers and sisters within arm’s reach. This, of course, is something of a fantasy because in truth these aging women were still undoubtedly the primary caregivers and didn’t sit knitting in a rocking chair quite as often as we imagine. I wonder, though, if they feared the aging process as much as we do.  Losing a child, a sibling, or a friend to an early death was a common occurrence then. Our ancestors lived with death on their doorstep.

I doubt there were as many mirrors as there are now either, both the reflective kind and the kind we pass by in magazines and on TV that cause us to be self-conscious about the outward appearance of our aging.   We feel exposed.  We cannot hide our wrinkled skin, our graying her, our sagging breasts. We struggle to feel comfortable in our own skin, so unfamiliar, so foreign, so alien to what we’ve spent our lives striving to obtain.

Interacting with other women through the vehicle of the internet has had a profound effect on our sense of power in the face of aging. Women over fifty across the world are bonding, sharing, talking, exploring what it means to age in today’s world. We are re-defining the process for ourselves. I see great progress being made in our acceptance of ourselves and each other. We revere the woman who ages well, who exudes wisdom and confidence, who takes care of herself as much on the inside as the out. I wonder how much this translates from the activities in cyberspace to day-to-day living.  I do know, it has made a difference to me.