Goal Setting

 

Let’s Celebrate the New Year

I hope you had a joyous Christmas and are not getting ready for the New Year of 2013.

Every year at this time at the top of my To Do list is New Year’s Resolutions.  I’m guessing that’s on your To Do list too. For several years the item at the top of my list was “Loose 10 pounds.” It stayed in the No. 1 spot year after year because those same ten pounds continued to hold on or even creep upward.  Now that I’m facing the fact of no success, I’m ready to consider a new approach, and I’ve found the answer.

Only now do I recognize that what I’d been doing has been Setting Goals. And I was omitting major factors in goal setting like the “when”, the “how” and “what” should happen.

Did I need others involved—maybe one of those medical procedures like a tummy tuck or special diets from Weight Watchers? What about a schedule?  Right now I may need to limit my love of dark chocolate to eat none after dinner, or maybe bite into those delicious bits only on weekends.  What about a calendar or record to track progress? Do I get on the scale every day? Or record my weight once a week?

Another aspect of my unsuccessful resolutions to drop ten pounds was ignoring outside factors or circumstances. Just this week my youngest kid brought me a plate of yummy Christmas goodies, and without a minute of thought I ate them all.  (If I were serious about those ten pounds, I would have anticipated and planned for the challenges of Christmas cookies.)  External circumstances are part of the picture.

Many businesses, organizations and political groups conduct annual goal setting sessions. Here at Mary’s Woods there is discussion of what the future could (or should) hold.  We read about the increasing average age of city residents and the changes in the needs of services to seniors. How might those circumstances affect the future services and activities here and in the community?

A regular annual item on City Council calendars is “Goal Setting.”  For any chance to realize a goal there needs to be recognition of all the players and an understanding of actions that are needed. All the players need to recognize the long range goal, and , hopefully they have the resolve to make it happen.  That’s where “resolutions” come in. To “resolve” to do something is a promise—a commitment.  Columbus and other early explorers “resolved” to find a new route to the riches in Asia. The goal was clear and they “resolved” to try again and again to reach the goal.

Businesses and individuals set goals too.  However, we should recognize that setting goal is not the same as making a “resolution.” On New Years or any other time a resolution is a commitment to be reached. A goal is what I aim for, what I hope to achieve. To me that’s a far smaller commitment than what I plan to accomplish. Getting rid of those ten pounds is still on my “To Do” list. But I need to “shape up” (pardon the pun) and better define that goal with a list of how to accomplish it.  I hope that local governments, businesses and organization can do the same, and the results will be meaningful resolutions.

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Thanks Giving

This is the day for turkey, family dinners and smiles.  I also think it’s time for something more—some “thanks” and some “giving”.  Attendance at the recent LOACC class on Ethical Willls prompted some thought about what I hope to be my legacy to my children and to the community and this holiday prompts more thinking.  Obviously, “Thanksgiving” is a compound word—two parts.  Let’s start with thanks.
I give thanks to my two kids.  Each is unique, with different talents and views and invaluable to me when I need ideas or assistance with multiple tasks. The real estate knowledge, financial skill and a wife who is an attorney make advice easily available on legal decisions.  A daughter who not only is an accomplished interior designer but also an expert on spread sheets is a delight—especially since I worried about her high school algebra skills.  And a son who reinforces my belief in positive thinking—so much so that he’s discontinuing her landscape business for new consulting work on “Lifescape”.
I’m also thankful for a father who was a great story teller.  I think I learned about telling stories from him.  (Stories are the heart of these columns as well as my Facing Age book. ) He kept daily diaries from January 2, 1817 to the mid 1980s, and these books are here in my storage area.  Most interesting are his records and writings of World War I.  With great effort he managed to enlist in the air service even though he lacked a college education.
He was in France when the war ended. That event caused so much excitement that going home was more important than the fact that in the uproar there had been a robbery.  His pilot’s wings were gone. They were replaced when he got back to New York, and it was years later he learned from then County Sheriff Bill Brooks that the replacement wings were a redesign of the 1917 version. (Stories about his aviation career are in draft form waiting for me to complete a possible new book.)
Now about giving,  With today being the beginning of the holiday season, ideas about giving are everywhere.  And with the current economic times, giving without high costs is especially important.  That’s required more thinking but I’ve come up with a plan that I expect to be a great success.  It’s a book (more likely a booklet or pamphlet) about the Stevenson family.  It’s also a way to decide what of all the paper around me is worth keeping and sharing.
One of those bits of paper is a newspaper clipping from a 1997 issue of the Lake Oswego Review.  Headline is “Masked crusader isn’t easy to put on a career’s resume.  The article describes my first post college job.  As assistant to the advertising manager of the company that made Ovaltine and sponsored the Captain Midnight TV show, I responded to all of Captain Midnight’s fan mail, but I couldn’t sign his name.  Management felt my signature was not masculine enough. Was that sex discrimination way back then?
Contents of this as-yet unnamed product will include a copy of the Stevenson family tree and notes about relatives from decades or centuries ago, as well as about my two brothers and our growing up in Wilmette, Illinois. Whether or not I’ll include pictures is undecided, but I have a few that might be worth if not a laugh at least a smile.
Thanksgiving has new importance to me since I’m tying together the “thanks” and the “giving.” Now that I’ve written this down I have a clearer idea of what my giving will include, and now that I’m seeing it in print I feel a commitment  to follow through.  Maybe you to will try the Give/Thanks approach.  Let’s hope it works well for both of us.
Posted in 2011, attitudes, Changes, facing age, facing changes, finding answers, Gifting, Lake Oswego, Lake Oswego Review, learning, lessons, lessons for aging, life lessons, Thanksgiving, West Linn Tidings | Leave a comment

Assumptions

Assumptions, especially wrong ones, can cause problems. Readers of my book Facing Age Finding Answers may remember the chapter titled “Don’t Make Wrong Assumptions.”

With warning from experts I should know better than to make that mistake. Rachel Naomi Remen wrote “Expecting the best of people produced better results than assuming the worst.” She also said “The life in us is diminished by our judgment far more frequently than by disease.” John Sales’ comment was “Assumptions allow the best of life to pass you by.”

With all the warning I’d like to think I’d do better than jumping to conclusions. I relearned this message last month from a talk and book signing event at the Benson Hotel meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Portland.

As usual I’d gear my talk to my audience, and use what I’d learned over the years from speaking to a variety of service clubs. My facts, which turned out to be my assumptions, included:

  • Membership: all men, age 50 or more.
  • Limited attention to the speaker. Members congregating in small groups to talk to one another.
  • More likely to complain about the food or a local issue than to listen and applaud.
  • Expecting to gain useful business contacts. Attending because it’s expected of members regardless of topic or speaker
  • Some “Old people” are disabled, confused and maybe senile—not thinkers and doers

The Kiwanian who invited me suggested that it might be easier if I used my cane rather than my walker. Another assumption of mine: Someone using a walker might be perceived as old, likely to be confused and maybe even senile.

Having those thoughts in mind and the generous offer of transportation by the same Kiwanian I was ready for my talk. Arriving at the private dining room I realized almost immediately that my assumptions were totally wrong. (The cane vs. walker idea vanished when I saw the small room. Neither device was needed.)

Ages of members of the Kiwanis Club of Portland ranged from late 20s to 80s or more. Average age is around 57 and 40% are women. The attention I received before, during and after my talk and the informal conversations were very special.  As the meeting started everyone walked around to chat briefly with others.  (I think everyone there shook my hand and welcomed me.) All of us shared ideas including reactions to the Oregon Land Use Plans of the 1970.  I repeated the “Cardinal Rules” and the warning about not making assumptions.

Public service is the major interest of Club members and involvement in numerous service projects is year round. In fact activities today (December 15) include Salvation Army Bell Ringing. In November they celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Kiwanis Doernbecher Children’s Cancer Program. Their international organization is partnered with Unicef to eliminate “from the face of the earth” maternal and neonatal tetanus. The Club sponsored programs for teen agers and young adults impressed me. They offer three interactive programs that, as their material says “allows high school students to discover their own leadership potential.”

My assumptions cost me lots of time in planning my book signing talk. Again I was reminded of mistakes made when we make judgments without facts. Equally importantly I was inspired by from the organization’s clear purpose—“Help change the world one child and one community at a time.”

I have a purpose too– to share ideas and information about Positive Aging. I look forward to conversations on this topic, and thank the Kiwanis Club of Portland for helping me articulate that goal. And as an additional benefit, I had the pleasure of signing and selling some of my books.

Posted in 2011, attitudes, cardinal rules, facing age, facing changes, finding answers, Kiwanis, lessons, lessons for aging, Live Longer, Longevity | Leave a comment

A Change You Can Count On

Some of the changes that come with aging can be forecast but with no certainty of when they may occur or even if they will.  We can and should decide which of several alternative actions would be best, and also change our minds later.

Others changes are certain and we can prepare for them—even practice what we will do. For example we knew last week that Daylight Savings time would end on Sunday and I was ready to change my sleep pattern. With Halloween past, ads for scary costumes are replaced with ads for turkeys and reasons  to be thankful not only for turkey but also for kind words and pleasant attitudes. I’d like to see us, as we age, to practice kind words and pleasant attitudes no matter what the month and holiday, and I know it’s possible.

One of the nicest complements that I’ve received came from someone I passed in the hall of the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center—she was leaving her class as I was going to mine. She said that my smile brightened her day and her comment certainly brightened mine. Since then I’ve been looking for more examples of behavior that reinforces “Positive Aging.” I see clues in scanning the photos in this newspaper—some people have warm smiles, some whose smiles seem less warm appear to be recalling the command to “Smile, you’re on Candid Camera” and others appear to worry that a smile would cause a crack in part of the face.

The warm smiles come from people who see the positive parts of life and the world.  That’s a common characteristic of my favorite people.  One of them—a friend of my daughter– is Peg Conley a watercolor artist. She creates gift cards and her watercolor catalog says, “Peg combines her two favorite mediums, Words and Watercolors, to express her unique view of the world.” One of the cards in the “Love & Friendship” category pictures a trio of tasty pears with the message, “Thanks for being one of my most treasured friends.” A card in the “Get Well” category pictures flowers in bloom with the message  “In this challenging time, may you find comfort and peace.”

From these examples of positive attitudes I’ve been wondering if this is a trait that can be taught. Since my Lake Oswego Planning Commission days when decisions about land uses at Marylhurst were discussed I’ve been aware of positive attitudes of people there.  In visits over the years I was impressed by the courtesy and warmth of the Mary’s Woods staff. I assumed there was a detailed training program that produced polite, caring and attentive people.  Recently when I ask the Director of the Meals programs about special training he said “No. We hire people who already have an attitude of serving and caring.”

Some people are innately thoughtful, caring and giving.  I believe that, but I also believe that we can cultivate those characteristics—traits that are part of the environment in which we live—traits that we can mirror. That happens at Mary’s Woods.  Everyone nods, smiles and often speaks to people they see in the halls.

Last week I attended a class on “Ethical Wills” at the LOACC.  (I’m sure content of the program will be in a future column.) I met several people who said they enjoy my columns and I especially enjoyed the smiles that came with getting acquainted. It was Aristotle who said, “We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” That’s a change all of us can count on.

Posted in 2011, Adult Community Center, attitudes, Changes, Clackamas County, facing age, greeting cards, healthy lifestyle, Inspirational cards, Lake Oswego, Lake Oswego Review, lessons for aging, life lessons, Live Longer, Mary's Woods, Peg Conley, positive aging, self-help, West Linn Tidings | Leave a comment

Vote

Are you ready to vote? Your ballot should have arrived last week—unless your address has changed and you forgot to notify the County. The news is full of discussion about candidates and issues, but can be confusing. The talk of various Republican candidates is broadcasts and fill the morning newspaper. The President travels the country with discussion focused on what needs to be done now or next year or whenever and that’s the news of the day. The challenge for all of us is recognize what are voting decision for now and what can we expect on ballots next year. Right now we need to know today’s issues so that we can fill out ballots and mail or deliver them to an official ballot election drop box by 8 PM on Election Day, November 8.

Confusion may come in separating the questions asking for marks on the ballot from all this current news about the 2012 elections and who will be on the 2012 ballot for President, Congress and even the local mayor and City Council. Just wait a minute. What about voting on the ballot that appeared in your mailbox last week? Although the choices we make now are not as news-worthy as those we’ll make next year, we should remember that seniors are a major force in these decisions. As Chester Bowels once said, “Government is too big and too important to be left to the politicians.” We seniors are a major voting bloc, and I’d guess more likely than most to be informed about how government works.

This election is not about candidates. It’s about “measures”–questions put on the ballot by a city council, the County Commission, or citizens who petitioned for a place on the ballot. Voting on a measure is limited to those who would be affected. The County Clerk insures that each of our ballots list only those that fit where we live. Several have broad application. The County Sheriff’s Levy asks for “Renewal of the Current County Sheriff Public Safety Local Option Levy” approved by voters in 2006. According to the County Voters Pamphlet the levy would maintain 84 jail beds and about 19 Sheriff’s patrol deputies and continue the drug enforcement program.

Another measure that can have broad application is “Measure 3-386 Voter Approval of Urban Renewal.” It would change the county-wide urban renewal process by requiring voter approval. County Urban Renewal programs generally apply to unincorporated areas, but cities use urban renewal too. And since it’s being discussed locally this measure deserves some attention.

Most measures apply to a particular city. Molalla wins a prize for the most issues—five. For us in this newspapers’ circulation areas the major voter issue probably is funds to build a new West Linn police station. Measure 3-377 asks approval of a General Obligation Bond not to exceed $8,500,000 to pay for acquiring land, and to design, construct, equip and furnish the new station. According to the Voters’ Pamphlet cost would be 16 cents a year of assessed value. For a home assessed at $285,000 that’s a property tax of about $46.

With all the media coverage of for next year’s issues and candidates, it’s worthwhile to spend a little time understanding the issues up for decision now. According to a Community Newspapers column I saved from years ago, “older voters make up a force to be reckoned with at the polls.” And I wrote, “We know that as seniors we are the most active voting bloc.” We have the power. Now let’s accept the challenge and be sure to vote.”

Posted in 2011, 2012 Elections, Adult Community Center, attitudes, cardinal rules, Changes, city council, Clackamas County, County Sheriff's Levy, Election, facing changes, finding answers, influence history, Lake Oswego, Lake Oswego Review, learning, lessons, lessons for aging, life lessons, Live Longer, Longevity, Molalla, personal history, positive aging, self-help, traditions, volunteer opportunities, Vote, voting, West Linn Tidings | Leave a comment

Benefits of Coping with Change

“Change comes and we must deal with change.” That was the headline on my last column, but here’s to me a more valuable approach: “Take Charge!”

Decide what you want or need! Decide who is responsible for making the decisions!  Often the changes facing us are out of our control—a health problem, new tax laws, changes in the value of an IRA.  Although we can’t avoid or control all the changes in our lives, there are choices to be made in how to deal with whatever arises. The question is: Who is responsible for making these decisions?

Frustration comes when we are subject to decisions of others.  If we decide for ourselves on the best way to manage change, frustration declines.  Even realizing in advance that the choices we make may need revision later, the change we face can be subject to our choices, not imposed by someone else.

Al Siebert, PhD is a man I’ve admired since I met him decades ago. In his book The Survivor Personality he offers some valuable ideas about “Handling Life’s Difficulties.”  Search for ways to convert difficulties into an opportunity to make things better. Learn the difference between allowing things to work well and trying to make things work well. And “expect that something can be done to influence events in a way that leads to a good outcome.”

Since some of the changes that go with aging are well known, future choices can be anticipated. Retirement can mean a change in income.  Physical and financial changes may mean a need for a smaller home or one with fewer demands. The same changes may result in a need for different transportation choices.  Shall I continue to drive the car?  Is the bus stop within reasonable walking distance? Have past connections with friends and neighbors disappeared? If so, are there local services or programs that could help me?

Kids and family members who once looked to us for guidance now may expect to guide us with directions that remove our rights to make decisions.  Advance planning and actions can insure that you can be in charge of some of anticipated changes. A dozen years ago I got a head start with my kids and financial decisions.  I attended an Adult Community Center program by the OSU Extension Service titled “If you become incapacitated who will make decisions for you?” An Extension Service attorney  discussed the details including “Where are your valuable papers” like insurance policies, banks, investments, etc. and recommended reviewing this information with the family. What a good idea! My kids each told me how appreciative they were of understanding my finances. With that knowledge none of the three have ever told me what to do but often offer informed and wise advice.  It’s clear that responsibility for decisions belongs to me.

Another example of the benefit of advance identification of potential changes worked for me when I realized it was time to move.  When it became physically difficult for me to walk around the yard to prune the roses and walk to the mail box I knew decision time had arrived.  I’d visited several senior retirement communities and shared with my kids the pros and cons of various choices. They were in full support of my choice and a huge help with the details of moving and marketing my house. (The home on Windfield in Lake Oswego is perfect for seniors, has great neighbors and is for sale, in case column readers are interested.)

Making decisions about change is far better than being told what to do.  I recommend it. And if you’d like more information about the OSU’s list of valuable papers, try extension.oregonstate.edu/catalogue.

Posted in Adult Community Center, attitudes, Changes, facing age, facing changes, finding answers, healthy lifestyle, Lake Oswego Review, learning, lessons, lessons for aging, life lessons, Oregon State University, OSU, OSU Extension Services, personal history, positive aging, self-help, West Linn Tidings | Leave a comment

Facing Changes

It’s common knowledge that older people resist change and avoid it as much as possible. In my book Facing Age Finding Answers the chapter titled “Change: Good, Bad or Lucky” offers varying opinions.

John Steinbeck said “It is the nature of a man, as he grows older to protest against change for the better.”  According to Norman Vincent Peale “Change your thoughts and you can change the world.” And Harvard Professor Roger Porter said, “No one is going to make a change that involves pain, if they think they can avoid it.”  In recent years I’ve agreed with Porter and now find that Steinbeck‘s comment hit home when he found that many people “Protest change for the better.”  My problem was in not looking for alternatives to make changes that could improve my life.  Lately, that’s happened.

Many of the changes that I’m facing result from having had polio as an infant.  Weakness in my right leg has increased. Now the cane I’ve used for years often is being replaced by a walker, and carrying loads of my book or the week’s groceries is impossible. Rather than resenting the changes, I’ve found that taking action is better. Now I’ve found changes that offer new avenues to make life better.  With positive thinking I’ve discovered ways around problems that bring unexpected benefits. These new approaches fall into two categories—benefits of help from others and technological assistance.

Ask & Accept Help! People often are eager to help and just need to be asked. One of my special delights is discovering “Bag Ladies.” These are friends who carried a bundle of my books when I had a Meet the Author or Book Signing event.  Not only were these friends glad to help but also often provided transportation.  An extra benefit was the pleasure of their company and conversation.  Sometimes help is offered without being asked. My problem of getting garbage and recycling cans out to the curb on collection day was solved by my neighbor who, without my asking, took over that chore. And the check-out crew at the grocery store is always ready to lug my purchases out to the car.

Technology Offers Benefits! Science was never a favorite topic for me.  (My need to escape chemistry and physics prompted selecting Journalism as my college major.)  Now, I’ve learned that new technology provides remarkable solutions for my hopes and needs. Writing these columns is a delight for me, and for years I’ve wished that they could be more broadly available.  I know ideas for Positive Aging are of interest to readers outside the circulation areas of the Lake Osweg0 Review and West Linn Tidings and to others who do subscribe but never read the second section. Now the copy for my columns appears here on my WordPress Blog and anyone who wants to know more about Positive Aging and me can just google my name. Another advancement is converting my book into an eBook that can be read on an Amazon.com Kindle, BarnesandNobel.com Nook, Apple’s iBooks for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPads or other tablets.

Facing changes has produced unexpected benefits. Fear of change is a waste of time and blocks awareness of huge new opportunities. Here are two more quotes on facing change:

“It’s not that some people have willpower and some don’t.  It’s that some people are ready to change and others are not.” James Gordon, M.D.

“The past is but the beginning of a beginning.” H.G. Wells

Rather than giving ourselves permission to fail, believe that change means new beginnings!

Posted in attitudes, Changes, facing changes, finding answers, healthy lifestyle, Lake Oswego, Lake Oswego Review, learning, lessons for aging, life lessons, personal history, positive aging, self-help, Story telling, West Linn Tidings | Leave a comment

3 Cardinal Rules

How old is “old”? This column, my book and various talks I give are tied to “Positive Aging,” and often tied to that question.  It’s a favorite question of mine.  How many years must someone live to be identified as “old”?  Once the answer was “65” or “old enough to collect Social Security” or “old enough to retire.” No more! Now many agree that “old” is not a question of numbers, but a question of attitude. It can mean wisdom too with ideas and lessons learned over the years.

Decades ago I learned lots about Dealing with Conflict, Making Assumptions and Reaching Personal Goals. Usually I wrote and often copyrighted pamphlets on these and other topics (“Words as Ammo or Olive Branch,” “Dealing with Impossible People” and “Listening Skills.” These were products of various jobs and work as a consultant, and although the efforts were made years ago what I learned still has value in spite of my age.  Now I’d like to share with you some of them with you. Here’s an example.

Three of us as the Planners Training Team conducted seminars for city and county officials and their staffs—often endorsed by the American Planning Association and on contract with the League of Oregon Cities.  Often these dedicated officials had little experience with the conflicts and misunderstanding brought on by their official duties, and I shared with them ways to deal with the anger and accusation they faced. I explained “The Three Cardinal Rules.” (How I learned and used The Rules are a chapter in Facing Age Finding Answers.) Their message continues to be useful no matter what kind of personal conflict arises and age of “combatants.”

Three Cardinal Rules.

1. It’s in your best interest to assume that people are not out to get you.

2. It’s in your best interest to assume that people are doing the best they can.

3. Recognize that all human conflict is a result of people being human.

These rules became invaluable to me in dealing with the “hot issue” and conflict of the 1970s and 80s when Oregon established the Land Conservation and Development Goals.  Oregon’s new land use laws required “citizen involvement” and “protection of farm and forest land.”  The issues were especially volatile in counties like Clackamas with little planning or zoning in rural area. To meet those new state requirements the County Planning Director and I set up a series of night meetings in rural area. “Citizen involvement” was abundant. The anger and noise were huge!

Night after night we heard the cries that reached a crescendo in the small city of Molalla. About 400 people crowded the high school gym to yell at us. “How dare you!” “You’re taking away our rights!” And as the anger rose I found myself silently mumbling the newly learned Cardinal Rules.  I told myself “They’re not out to get me!”

Finally the meeting ended.  As the crowd started to disperse, an older women came up to me. She leveled a shaking hand, pointed a trembling finger me and screamed “I’M GOING TO BOMB YOU!” That was the highest drama in my career. However, there was no bomb.  The Planning Director, the County and I lived through the chaos of Oregon’s new Land Use Laws.

Those memories flooded back recently when the Mayor said he appreciated reading the Rules in my book. I’m sure that he and other public officials as well as many of us have been yelled at, and we should realize the continuing value of lessons learned long ago.  Don’t forget The Cardinal Rules. They do work.

Posted in cardinal rules, healthy lifestyle, Lake Oswego Review, learning, lessons, lessons for aging, life lessons, Live Longer, Longevity, personal history, positive aging, self-help, Story telling, traditions, West Linn Tidings | Leave a comment

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

I was confused and even began to worry when I read this headline in a recent Bottom Line newsletter. Can this be true? “Worrying Helps You Live Longer!”

For ten years or more I’ve looked for the latest information that can be used in my quest for facts for Positive Aging. I’ve learned loads about recent research. I know there are new facts about successful aging and know not to believe an ad that screams in bold face type that they have a cure for Alzheimer’s.

But now, I read that “Worry is good” according to Howard Friedman, PhD, professor at the University of California Riverside and lead researcher of an extensive study of longevity. He said “much of the common advice about living a long life—chill out—is wrong.” The study, begun in 1921 found that people who plan and worry tend to stay healthier and that hard work and accompanying stress actually is good for you.

In a way this is good news for me. Too many people refer to “retirement” as a time to rest, travel and do little else. In reply once I said “retirement is a dirty word.” I officially retired from working for Clackamas County in the 1980s and became a “registered woman owned business” working as a facilitator and trainer in conflict resolution and communication skills. I have a collection of business cards with various titles from over the years. So there were times that I worried over proper replies to “Requests for Proposals” or about next month’s cash flow or how to market my book. I still worry about what topic to share with you in this column and whether I will make my deadline. I still worry about what topic to share with you in this column and whether I will make my deadline.

Volunteer efforts may be similar to past “jobs” (that means ones where you actually get paid) but can also become much more rewarding when you are volunteering for a specific purpose. My decades of volunteer efforts include a variety of local government board, commissions and task forces. Opportunities to volunteer are everywhere .The work may be similar to past “jobs” (That means ones with pay) but also can be more rewarding. My years of volunteer efforts include a variety of local government boards and task forces. In fact, this column began as a volunteer effort to make out community more people aware of our Adult Center. Activities with the League of Women Voters provided experience and personal rewards, and as a new resident of Mary’s Woods, I look forward to sharing recollections with two of my new neighbors– Virginia Campbell and Peggy Oliver, each a past League President.

Just think, if Dr. Friedman’s research is accurate, then maybe a terrific prescription for longevity is the positive worry that accompanies purpose-driven volunteering. His advice for the benefits of social interaction includes this gem: Those who help others are the ones who live longest.”

Friedman has other ideas for living longer. “Be optimistic but not too much so.” He recommends “realistic optimism” but “don’t be a Chicken Little” and simply stated “Stay busy.” This study concludes that “Productive people strive to achieve goals and then set new goals when the when the old ones are reached.” So, my next goal is to have my book published as an E-Book. I plan to begin as soon as I learn what the heck an e-Book is.

Posted in attitudes, Chicken Little, Clackamas County, healthy lifestyle, Lake Oswego, Live Longer, Longevity, Mary's Woods, positive aging, volunteer opportunities | Leave a comment

Storytelling Influences Our Lives, Our History

At a toddler’s bedtime the common request is “Tell me a story!” and with continuing thought about how our minds work and what we remember– or don’t remember– story telling is a major portion of what sticks in our minds.

In my recent column I told the story about my daughter entering the diving competition at the Lake Grove Swim Park. That story helps both of us to avoid that common characteristic of many older people. We can remember to avoid “Permission to fail”.

That column was about what we can learn from our children and their stories. Now, I’m reminded of how story telling influences our lives and our history. Long before reading and written language were developed, we learned from stories—The Bible, Aesop’s Fables, ancient myths. My many efforts to keep a daily journal never really worked out, but my intent was to keep track of events and “recent good stuff.” I kept some of the notes from those fits and starts. One, from a dozen years ago was an article in the “Bottom Line” newsletter titled “Mind, Body, Power” and about “intuition and absorbing experience.”

Long before humans learned to communicate through a written language we learned from stories. In the temples, around campfires and in tribal gatherings we learned about our beginnings (Adam and Eve in the garden), moral guidance springing from the head of an Asian god, and Aesop’s fables teaching children about greed and futile hope for that goose with the golden eggs. Our language is sprinkled with terms and phrases drown from rhymes, fables and parables. I can’t hear about “sour grapes” without remembering the goose trying to snag that fruit out of narrow necked container.

Now that I know that stories and visual images are keys to remembering information, I build worth-remembering-stories into my columns. Subtitle of the book I published is “Stories for Positive Aging.” The chapter on “Remember?” quotes Mark Twain: “When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not.”
To me a relevant story is the clue to planting a memory in my brain. That “fact” certainly blows what I learned as a Journalism student at the University of Illinois. Then major emphasis was including in the opening sentence or first paragraph the “The Five Ws and the H,”( Who, What, When, Where, Why and How). That has mostly disappeared from newspapers. Now the opening is to be a story and the importance of stories also influences advertising, gossip, and opinion.

As an U. of I. graduate, I support the school with occasional financial contributions, and last week received in the mail a colorful 8” x 5´postcard about “Illinois Annual Fund”. The headline: “Every gift has a story. Tell us yours.”

I was reminded again of the power of stories when my kids and I looked over some old scrap books. Mention of a Great Aunt Aunt reminded me of her story. In the 1800s she married a New York trained doctor.

Then, newly married they returned to Persia where he could to tend to the Shaw. She quickly learned about living in a foreign country and left on a camel carrying her new born son with her. That’s one bit of family history—hardly important but can be remembered easily along with the name of the “antique rug” in front of my fireplace. Of course it’s “Persian.”

Now, tell me your stories. Share them with the family and increase your memories. It’s fun.

Posted in Adam and Eve, attitudes, healthy lifestyle, influence history, personal history, positive aging, Story telling, traditions | Leave a comment