Monday, December 16, 2013

Time of the Long Night Moon

Downtown Ashland, Oregon in December snowstorm. Photo by Mark Arinsburg
Over a week ago, we had an unusual snowstorm that dropped 4-6 inches on the floor of the Rogue Valley. We are accustomed to snow in the mountains, but that amount of snow on the valley floor is rare. Temperatures fell to 4-6 degrees for several nights. Snowplows were unable to make a dent in the icy snow.

Even attempts to strew cinders on the dangerous surfaces did not succeed, with cinder loads sticking together, making them useless. Road conditions were quite dangerous for 5 or 6 days.

Schools were closed, and if they could people just stayed home.

Not a Christmas tree, but a festive jungle cactus
What in the world is up with her?
It was very beautiful though, as this photo of the downtown area shows. It was a good respite to stay at home for 5 days. Finally, there was a thaw, and everyone started to move around in the world again.

I've lived in the Ashland area since 1977, except for 4 years spent in Portland in the mid 80s. I never consciously intended to stay here that long. It just happened. I love it here. It is familiar. I have many longtime friends and connections. Yet I am feeling that it's time for a change.

I bought a house 2 1/2 years ago, a place I call the flower cottage. For years, I dreamed of having a house like this with a beautiful flower garden, and I have been enjoying living here. My younger daughter did a beautiful job painting the walls when I first moved in. It was such a loving gesture on her part. Still, it is feeling like time for  change.

Here we are at the end of year holidays. It will be full moon in two days, the "long night moon." I'm a Buddhist, and now that my kids are grown, I don't much celebrate Christmas. But it is the darkest time of the year, and that darkness calls out for some ornamentation to offset the long nights. So I found a few festive objects to decorate the jungle cactus in the kitchen, and that is my version of a Christmas tree this year.

I'm going to put my house on the market in January and I am planning to move to Baja. I want to be near the ocean. I want to be in a different culture. In letting go of the flower cottage and moving to Baja, I want to create a lifestyle that is simpler, slower and more affordable.

I have some friends in northern Baja. They are a large Mexican family who have grounded a meditation center in Ensenada for many years. I am hoping that they will help me find my way past the gringo ghettos. I have to learn Spanish. I keep telling myself it will not be that difficult, because I know French. But really, I have to get with it.

I wonder how I will dispose of the many beautiful objects I surround myself with. When this seems too impossible, I remind myself of all the beautiful clothing, chairs, tables, houses, pets, and lovers-- not necessarily in that order--that I have enjoyed and left along the way. Like the orange wing chair I had when I was 19 and lived in NYC, or the blue and white checked gingham pinafore I loved so much when I lived at Cherrymont in the Pennsylvania countryside. Or that thick beaver coat, which was so warm and stylish. I won't get into the lovers at the moment, though the beaver coat reminded me of them somehow.

Accumulating and dispersing. I've already started to take books off the shelves in order to donate them to the library. I will have to be careful not to try to dismantle things too fast. I want to keep the ceramic pomegranate from Italy and the bright blue butterfly. But many things will get passed along to be enjoyed afresh by others. This time of life is a time of letting go. It's good to practice letting go. I am looking around my house and thinking of who among my friends would enjoy certain objects and implements.

 I just read an article about hygge, which is pronounced  HYU-gah.  Hygge describes a way that people cultivate happiness in Denmark, which is considered one of the happiest countries in the world, despite the fact it is so cold and dark in winter. They seem to have a good thing going, so I thought you might like to tune into some of the ways the Danes cultivate their happiness.

Hope your holidays are full of happiness, warmth and love. May this coming year bring beauty, delight and richness of all kinds into your world.

Monday, December 2, 2013

New moon contemplations

Two small figures made of Herend China from Hungary circle a small Tibetan prayer wheel on the mantel

It has been so long since I've felt inclined to share here in any real way that I feel I should be opening the door with a big grin and yelling, "Honey, I'm home!"

Sometimes I learn by eliminating what I do not want. This has been the case recently. I joined the Ashland Chamber of Commerce a couple of months ago, with the encouragement of my business consultant. I am not placing any blame on him. His job is to help his clients move forward with their business. And he is very helpful in that regard. I have enjoyed working with him for the past few years. He has a lot of wonderful qualities. It's not about him. It's about me.

It found it instructive to attend Greeters meetings on Friday mornings at 8:15 and experience the manic and usually sincere energies of such a varied group of humans, all doing their best to make a good impression on each other and also make a living.

I am humbled by what I've experienced there. I feel for all of us, all of us human beings. And there were some magical and delightful moments, not only when the energetic gal in a red evening dress jumped up on the bar during the meeting she sponsored. That was dramatic enough but it was just as sweet to see how people engage each other with humor, props and stories. I was moved to see each of us present ourselves. Every one of us is uniquely marvelous. And it has been my long belief that we are often reduced to confining ourselves by the circumstances of our lives. Attending the Greeters meetings brought that up for me. 

Then I agreed to advertise in a wonderful paper here called Locals Guide. I like the fellow who runs it. I appreciate his philosophy and his qualities. He is a real sweetie. But the closer it came to my interview being featured in the paper (something I was paying for), the more uneasy I felt.

So I had to bail out. I felt very bad about leaving him in the lurch. I did leave him in the lurch and I am not a person who makes a habit of that. While all this was happening, it occurred to me at long last that my heart was really not in it,  really not into promoting my various talents and skills in this way anymore.

I have done it for a long time, and I am weary of it.  I began to think, "Maybe I should just drop it completely." It being the many unfinished creative projects and services I have been concocting for the past 5 years. The musical revue, the individual coaching work, the workshops.

The prayer flags in front of the Tashi Choling temple make a beautiful sound in the wind

I think my passion for shifting the paradigm on aging is a version of saving the world. Of course, it will be great when the paradigm on aging shifts to a more positive one. That's not what I am talking about though.  As you probably already know, thinking he or she can save the world has a certain fairly immense amount of egotism to it. But leaving that aside, the question of egotism, my heart was just not in  it anymore. I was burned out. I had lost the joy and inspiration, and was just slogging along as a responsible adult often does.

Too adult, too responsible. Fortunately, there are many other people who care about shifting the paradigm, so it is just fine if I shift my own attention. And I am.

I am re-imagining the ways I engage in Sage's Play in order to include my own growth and pleasure in the equation.  I am letting go into a new field of experience. And this includes a certain amount of change, loss, and uncertainty. I'm okay with that.

New moon is the time in the lunar cycle for new beginnings. New vistas. Am I retired? Have I dropped out? Stay tuned....

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Brief encounters

I enjoyed sharing some positive aging perspectives and a couple of the songs from A New Wrinkle today at the AARP's Vital Aging conference for southern Oregon. Several hundred people attended.

Just before I got ready to leave one of the workshops, I saw Jean Mountaingrove, whose 88th birthday party I participated in recently. She was wearing an Audacious Aging button from the kit I had given her as a birthday present. I commented on the button, and she asked, "Now where did we get that?" touching the button with her fingers. "I gave it to you," I told her.

We exchanged another pleasantry and I said goodbye. I walked outside, feeling a bit sad. Loss--there is a lot of it in aging.

As I walked to my car, I met a cheerful woman navigating with a walker. She thanked me for my performance. "The lectures are great, but what you did really got to the essence," she told me with a warm smile. "I loved the songs."

When I got home, I decided to take a walk. The sky was overcast but it was not really that cold out. I saw an older man coming toward me, walking on the opposite side of the street. He wore a baseball cap and kept his head down. When we were closer to each other, he raised his head. I saw that he had sunglasses on. With a big smile, he looked at me and asked, "Well do you think we are doing any good?" I was taken aback by his comment at first. "I sure hope so," I told him. And I do.

P.S. You might enjoy reading the Sage's Play monthly newsletter for November
Wishing you a happy and rejuvenating Thanksgiving time.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Upcoming events: AARP Vital Aging Conference

Southern Oregon Vital Aging Conference
Smullin Center
2825 E. Barnett Rd., Medford, Oregon
Saturday, November 16, 2013

The conference starts at 9:30am. At 12:45, I will be presenting "You Look So Good for Your Age" --a mix of motivational pro-aging talk, stories and some songs from our musical revue A New Wrinkle. Hope you can join us!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Some Pro-Aging News for YOU

Since not all of you know about the monthly newsletter I produce, I wanted to share our just-published October newsletter with you.

I think you will find that it contains some interesting news about aging, from the standpoint of various people, including author-activist Ashton Applewhite and neurologist-author Oliver Sacks. Hope you will take a moment to click the link and check it out.

I invite you to subscribe to receive the monthly newsletter in order to stay informed of creative aging programs we are presenting. You can do so at our Sage's Play website home page. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Autumn garden, crowdfunding notes and an honoring ceremony

Pink sedum, yellow and gold crysanthemums
 The front garden is ornamented with some lovely autumn flowers. It's such a pleasure to be with the garden as it changes throughout the year. Right now there's pink sedum, red penstemon, yellow and rust colored crysanthemums, tall pink hyssop, and the roses are uttering their last blooming breaths before getting quiet for the winter.

I've planted winter vegetable starts and I hope that they flourish. It makes such a difference to have some fresh, home grown greens in the fall and winter.

We are well into our IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign. We have raised $600 from 12 donors so far. I've been emailing and posting the news about our project to various groups and communities, and I hope that some more folks join our tribe during the campaign. We want to raise $25,000, so we have a bit of a hike to get there from here. That is one of my understatements.

A couple of days ago I sent an email to Dr. Andrew Weil and one to author/neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks, too. I figure, what the heck? Both of them are certainly pro-aging types. One never really knows who will become a fan or supporter. And if people have never heard about what you are doing, they never have a chance to take part. Communication. Connecting. Visibility. All important.

I've been making some new friends at the Chamber of Commerce meetings. That's  fun, and I'm sure it will continue in that vein. Chamber members are very supportive of each other. That's one of the great things about being part of the Chamber. And I am also enjoying visiting various business locations in the city. It's interesting and refreshing to experience the variety of businesses and nonprofits here and to get to know the people who are involved with them.

My hypnotherapy/ rapid eye practice has been rewarding. That's nothing new, really. I love doing this kind of work because people get positive results from it. I did some hypnotherapy sessions with a 91-year old woman who was experiencing severe chronic pain. She was quite open and she got the gist of the work right way. By the end of the session, she was pain free. It was really great to help her gain some tools to shift her awareness in order to reduce and manage her pain sensations. Hypnotherapy is wonderful for transforming many issues and difficulties. The unconscious mind does all the work, while the person just rests and relaxes.

New and exciting in my world! This weekend, I am leading an elder honoring ceremony for the 88th birthday of a woman well loved and respected in the local womens' community. I am pleased to have been invited to conduct the ceremony, share some songs from A New Wrinkle, and lead a conversation on aging, including some talk about ways to respond to ageism.

I  will be offering elder honoring ceremonies through Sage's Play and will be writing more about them in a future post.

On another note, it would sure be great if you or your friends would like to support our IndieGoGo campaign. You can listen to the cute song Laura Rich and I created and read all about our musical revue at this link here.

Doing this IndieGoGo campaign is a great learning experience, no matter how much we raise. Of course, the closer we can get to our fundraising goal, the better off our project will be. Your help is most welcome. If the spirit moves you, send us a tax-deductible donation. No donation is too small or too large.

Hope all is flowing well in your life. Sending a smile and wishing you a beautiful autumn season. Have the leaves started to fall where you live? Here, they have not, but by tomorrow who knows?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Please Help Us Produce A New Wrinkle and Shift the Paradigm on Aging

Gaea Yudron

Visit our just-launched IndieGoGo campaign site here.

Laura Rich
Four years ago, I was fortunate to discover composer Laura Rich, a delightful woman with a great deal of soul, humor and musical talent. As it happened, Laura was enthusiastic about my idea to create a musical revue on aging. She wholeheartedly agreed that our society's notions about aging were obnoxious and unreal, and that they needed to change for the better.

So Laura and I began our collaboration. In the process we began to develop a friendship, too. That's been a beautiful bonus of working together.  Now we have nearly finished creating A New Wrinkle, our provocative, witty musical revue.

Carolyn Myers
A New Wrinkle has a mission--to shift the paradigm on aging, to raise awareness, instigate dialogue and propel social change. We would like to see the revue produced in communities across the country, focusing attention on aging much as The Vagina Monologues focused attention on womens' issues.

My longtime friend Carolyn Myers has been involved in theater for decades as an actor, writer and director. Carolyn is magnanimous by nature and has always been very supportive of my creative work. I would not have been able to proceed without her, because when I began I had so little understanding of how to develop material for theater. Her suggestions and observations, always given with such diplomacy, have been  essential to the project.

Gary A. Einhorn

Business consultant Gary Einhorn is part of the team, too. I have been working with Gary for several years. He is practical, intuitive, educated and literate, and from my standpoint as an artist and social entrepreneur, Gary's qualities and his ability to support the project as a work of art have been very valuable, especially at those times when it seemed difficult to proceed. He is a good friend.

Larry and Joy Marshall, partners in Marshall Fundraising and Event Production, have been very supportive as we move forward. Their interest in helping to produce A New Wrinkle has been and is very encouraging.  As I have probably said before in this blog, creating art can sometimes be a bit of a lonely occupation, and it's wonderful to meet friends and kindred spirits who are excited about what you are doing.

In fact, nothing ever gets accomplished in this world without the participation of many people, no matter in what its field of endeavor. Art, science, business, education, medicine, religion, all depend upon the gathering of many people. And it's the same with our project, the musical revue A New Wrinkle, which is like a ship we want to send out into the world to create positive change.

We hope that you are part of that change, that you are part of our tribe, our crew, part of the growing grassroots movement to shift the paradigm on aging from its current dismal state.

We've launched a 40-day fundraising program on IndieGoGo in order to raise money to produce and promote the revue. Laura and I wrote a song for the campaign! You can listen to us and see us singing it on our IndieGoGo site. And you can read our story there.

You can send us a contribution too--hey every bit adds up.  If all you can send is $5, we welcome that and your interest in our work to shift the paradigm on aging. Of course, no contribution is too big, either.

We welcome your contribution, no matter what size--you're changing the world you realize.

So check out our IndieGoGo site and please help us however you can. You can help us to spread the word via your email list, Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. We are all in this together. We spend one-third of our lives as older adults, and we will all feel a lot happier as the culture opens up to the blessings and delights of later life, and to the real value of older people.