Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Still Here, Bless This Day

When I call my friend Philip and ask how he is, he invariably answers, "Still here" and I usually say, "Me too." I think Philip is 81. He used to be a Hollywood set designer. He has always been a rather colorful chap, prone to various interesting ensembles, including turbans, sarongs and other such items.

His daughter Tara took this photo of Philip "doing his Moses impression" on Mt. Ashland. Philip was the main builder for the Tashi Choling temple in the 80s. He spent summers living in a school bus and went back to work in Hollywood for the winters. Then he bought land near the temple and built an adobe structure and filled it to the brim with family and friends. He used to say that he was starting to grow a third world country there. His place did have some of that quality at times. After years of living that way, he built a bigger adobe house on his land. He is an artistic guy with a fondness for beauty and it shows in everything he does. 

I have a tender feeling about him these days, knowing that both of us are at the tail-end of this particular lifetime, and having a great appreciation for his determination, loyalty, and eccentricities, which once could be a bit annoying at times, but now seem to be endearing.

"It's a new day," as my Mother was fond of saying. Coming back up to the surface from the dream dimensions and waking again. Musing about the dreams and then meditating. Walking, writing, looking at birds and people. Reflecting on the state of the world, sperm whales dying with their stomachs full of plastic, the deranged phantasmagoria of politics. Memento mori. How good David Bowie looked even two days before his death. Fortunate in that way.

Yes, I have become this person about to turn 75, with a body verifiably older, my belly pregnant with wisdom or whatever, and so forth on the rest of the usual details re face, arms, breasts, neck and derriere which have not been subjected to plastic surgery or herculean exercises and are letting go into a far more relaxed, soft style. Acceptance.

I have gone from being a bohemian, beatnik, hippie and now bringing all that along with about 40 years of Buddhist study and practice, find I am an elder woman living in what I prefer to think of as voluntary simplicity, but which others might describe as low income. I am on the waiting list for a senior apartment. Which truly cracks me up at moments. But one never knows what is next, really.

A National Geographic photo from the 40s, Texas bluebells

The lilacs are in bloom. I am in the midst of my annual lilac yearning. This year, I have no garden with big old lilac bushes as I did at my flower cottage or at my friend Kate's place last year and I find myself walking along the back alleys in Ashland wishing I had brought my clippers to take a bit of lilac here and there for a bouquet. This could well happen. I may be a flower thief this year, unless somebody reading this brings me a lilac bouquet before I set out to quench my lilac thirst.

Everything is blooming much earlier than it did years ago. Lilacs always remind me of the day long ago when I took Refuge, agreeing with myself to enter (or re-enter) the Buddhist path. I brought a big bouquet of lilacs to Sister Palmo that day, which was May 13th, some year in the past, maybe 1975? Somewhere in that region. I wrote about this in my book Songs of the Inner Life. The book chronicles my adventures only to my early 30s.

I guess my current book project provides some kind of followup, though not in the memoir format. I helped to start Tashi Choling in 1978 and now I am collaborating with my sangha sister Lisbeth to create a book about Tashi Choling, a project I avoided for years, but which now has a kind of sweet inevitability about it. I feel quite lucky actually.  I have finally relaxed into the sweet inevitability, how I as a writer and as someone there from the beginning am a natural person to engage in writing this history. People tell me, "Oh, you're the perfect person to be doing this." Perfect, not. But definitely a likely suspect.

In fact, I feel more content than I have felt in a long time, working on this book. If all goes well (translation: and I live long enough) after we finish this book, I will go on to write a book about my teacher Gyatrul Rinpoche's life. I have already begun on that effort, but have to finish the Tashi Choling book first.

You would never find me doing this tightrope walk. At least not physically. I am a real flatland type of gal, strongly favoring solid ground over vast chasms.  And yet.....

I have been reading Chogyam Trungpa's brilliant book The Myth of Freedom again. In it, Trungpa opens up topics like boredom, restlessness, simplicity, mindful awareness and the various ways in which we use credentials to confirm or prove our existence. The last item is one I contemplate these days. The tightrope of identity. Or just being a lot more open. Work in progress. Letting go is Sage's Play, and practice for the upcoming journey out of this particular body and life.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Zihuatanejo: Mariposas, Mangos and Margaritas

It's lush, fragrant and green on the way to the beach
I just returned from a 10-day trip to Zihuatanejo. I was on my way to my Saturday morning yoga class yesterday, when one of my many fans (and it's mutual dude) rode by on his bike and told me that he was looking forward to what I had to say on the topic of Zihua.

Since a writer cannot be read without readers, and because I truly enjoy sharing travel experiences, along with ongoing musing about aging, art, creativity and life on the earth plane, here goes.

I decided to take a seaside holiday in Mexico to celebrate my 75th birthday. Which is not happening until the end of April, but these days the ship I operate is flying the flags of Choose Joy and Eat Dessert First. In that spirit I think it was logical to start celebrating my birthday early.

The entry to El Tamarindo
I had never been to Zihua, or Z if you really like to be succinct. It is "not a village" as my old friend Mitzi L. points out. Located north of Acapulco, its population is around 100,000.

Zihua is remembered by some folks as a location in the film The Shawshank Redemption. I still haven't seen that film. Therefore, I had no prior concepts, except for my ongoing Tropical Beach Fantasies, which are a longterm condition with me. And for this lingering thirst, I found Zihua quenching. Its wide bay sparkles with clear, calm water--warm salty water perfect for delicious swimming that is freeing, relaxing, utterly marvelous.

And of course, in counterpoint, unseen bugs are making their marks on one's flesh.

Processions of gringos in variegated regalia pass along the beach. Mexican families appear with their children. Solitary locals wade out in the water with their fishing nets.

Boats, ships and sailing vessels of various shapes and capabilities come and go. And everywhere, butterflies of all sizes and colors flutter through the air, their luminous, fragile bodies igniting a sense of joy and delight.


“I embrace emerging experience.
I participate in discovery.
I am a butterfly.
I am not a butterfly collector.
I want the experience of the butterfly.”


--Oregon poet William Stafford

In the patio of the large casa

I stayed in a very pleasant studio at El Tamarindo, which I booked through Airbnb. It's located about two blocks from Playa La Ropa, which is considered to be the primo beach in the area. El Tamarindo studios are part of a lovely large home which contains a variety of rental units. It's a beautiful, clean, friendly place, very well run by Carol Juk, who has been living in Z for 20 years now. She and her husband John took me into El Centro one day and showed me some restaurants, markets and other local places of interest.  They and everyone on their staff are so relaxed and kind.

A street for strolling in El Centro
There was a wonderful collection of books available, too and I enjoyed the pleasure of galloping through several of them in between the pleasures of swimming and sunning, exploring, and eating. No computer, no phone, no email. Just those books.

I read a wild travelogue by Peter Moore titled The Whole Montezuma. I finished two novels--Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver and The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. Both marvelous. And then there was Configurations, a wonderful book containing the poetry of Octavio Paz in both Spanish and English. While in Z, I was thoroughly drenched with the magic of words.

Speaking of words, it's said that one possible meaning of Zihuatanejo might derive from the Nahuatl language, referring to the "place of women" the western paradise of the Nahuatl universe, "the home of the goddess women."

I just leave that as a seed for the imagination. And there is some evidence. For one thing, there are seven statues of women scattered through El Centro and they are meant to represent the seven areas of Guerrero.

I took photos of several of them. Beautiful, no? Yes. I think you will agree.

Last January when I was in Ensenada in northern Baja,  I took a photo of a large statue that ornaments one of the city's oldest parks. The statue depicts a breastfeeding mother. Unfortunately it is hard to imagine finding one like it in the US. But I will not get into that right now....

Mexico is different. And that is one of the things I love about it. Because after all, women are half of the human experience.

No doubt there is plenty to be said about each of these statues, but I am not an authority on the topic, so you will have to find somebody else to say it. All I can report here is that they are quite lovely. And I am glad that they grace Zihuatanejo.

La Barra de Potosi, a village near Zihua


Two friends from Ashland were staying up the road while I was in Z, and we swam, explored and enjoyed some tasty meals together. I enjoyed their company. One day we took a ride out to La Barra de Potosi in a taxi driven by the charming Antonio, who was born in Z. "And so was my father and my grandfather," he told us.

La Barra de Potosi is a small fishing village with about 600 inhabitants. The village faces an expansive bay, and includes a lagoon area which has a large mangrove estuary filled with birds. In the winter season the bay hosts humpback whales, which can be seen leaping from the water with their white fins outstretched like wings. What a tranquil, wonderful place.

La Sirena Gorda

I had to stop at  La Sirena Gorda "The Fat Mermaid" for a meal one day. Well, just because....

The food was good and there were many paintings and sculptures of zaftig, voluptuous, chubby, fat mermaids adorning the walls.

I like the Mexican sense of humor. And it's refreshing to be in a culture that appreciates the fleshly contours of women.

These are just two of the many paintings of plump mermaids I saw there at La Sirena Gorda.

Having a Good Time

One day I was in a small fruit stand outside of the Mercado Campesino. I tried to move aside to let an old woman pass. She was petite: the top of her head came to my heart area. Her gray hair was pulled back into a bun. Her thin brown face was well wrinkled. She was carrying an umbrella and wore a loose cotton dress that would have been at home in the 1930s.

I stepped to one side, and so did she. I stepped to the other side, and she did too. Then she raised her umbrella in a flourish, looked up at me and smiled. She began to dance, gracefully and in earnest. Of course, I had to dance too, not just to be polite for heaven's sake, but because when two old women meet that way among the mangos and tomatoes, it's good to celebrate the moment. And I wish I understood what she said to me when we ended our dance together. Here's what I think she said. "Nice to meet you, sister. May the Dance be with you." And with you I told her with my eyes.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Joys of Play!

Step out of ordinary time and let go of self-consciousness

Spontaneity, Freedom, and Renewal

I am a woman who loves to play. It's true that I did have a serious play deficit during part of my adult life, even quite a significant part of my adult life, but now that I am older and wiser, I have relaxed back into being playful--thank goodness. 

Grownups are far too serious and inhibited. Elders included.

It would do all of us good to be more playful because playing lifts us out of seriousness and self-consciousness, giving us a no-cost vacation from mundane concerns that preoccupy us much of the time.

Play sets us free in a beautiful open field, where we have a chance to express ourselves spontaneously.

Things happen when we play that don't happen in other situations. In the midst of playing, we lose some or all of our usual self-consciousness and step into another, more timeless way of being. Play is pleasurable and invigorating. It's full of information about ourselves and others that comes in refreshing, even surprising ways.

People don't all play the same way of course. We have different play personalities or styles, or a mixture of several of them. Here are eight play styles.

Eight Play Personalities

There's the Joker, who loves being silly, the Mover who loves dancing and sports, the Explorer who loves new places, whether they are physical, emotional or physical, the Competitor who loves playing to win, the Director, who loves planning and creating events and projects, the Collector who loves gathering interesting or beautiful objects, the Artist who loves making things and the Storyteller, who enjoys creating an imaginative world with stories or other artforms.

What play styles appeal to you?  I am fond of the Joker, Explorer, Director, Artist and Storyteller, with a good appreciation for the Mover. I have limited involvement with the Collector and the Competitor. What about you?

Medical doctor Stuart Brown wrote a wonderful book titled  Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul. Brown suggests that when we reminisce about positive play experiences from childhood it can give us information about our emotional profile and what truly excites us in life.

What kind of play did you love as a child? What are some of your positive memories about great play times?

I remember doing a workshop titled Playfulness and the Pleasures of Aging at the Sage-ing International Conference in 2012.  I asked the 20 people who took part in the group to consider their childhood play experiences and to choose one that remains vivid to them. The responses were wonderful--running the gamut from tender and mystical to liberating and whimsical. One man spoke about how few positive play experiences occured during his childhood in Germany in the midst of war. But he recalled picking wildflowers and sitting with his sister making crowns from them. Weaving and wearing those crowns was a memorable moment of play and connection for him. Another person told of being raised in an oppressive atmosphere in an orphanage, and how he looked forward to throwing off his clothes and running into a lake at the end of each day. A woman spoke of a numinous dream of being underwater and the influence it had on her life. We went on to play some improvisational games together. By the time the group was over, I think all of us understood the truth of what Plato said long ago, when he wrote, "You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation."

Not only can you discover more about another person, you can also discover a lot about yourself that you would never learn from other types of pursuits. Because in play, we are free to express parts of ourselves that often have no other kind of outlet.

Is it scary to be silly?

Even though I loved playing jokes from a young age, and even though I had a father who took great delight in talking with many accents while inventing a variety of very funny characters, I often thought being silly was kind of scary. After all, kids or adults could make fun of you, ridicule you or laugh at you. It took me a few decades and a fair amount of experimentation and healing work, but these days I am generally comfortable with being silly.

Being silly is really a lot of fun. It's freeing to let go of being so darned grown up, armored by the need to control our established image of ourselves. I know that when I am silly, it gives other people permission to be silly, too.

Of course, Lily Tomlin and Steve Martin have permission to be silly. They are professional funny people. But we can give ourselves permission to let go and explore what form of silliness lives in us, too. What are your silly aspects? Do they have names? Do you talk with them?  You know, we all have a bevy of characters and archetypes within us, and being silly is one way to get to know them better and give them a chance to have their say.

In every real man a child is hidden that wants to play. ---Friedrich Nietzsche  (and that goes for women, too!)

The Magical Aspects of Play

For this child from the Omo tribe, elaborately beautiful makeup  includes many elements from the natural world, and carries meaning within the tribe.  In our culture, Halloween and Mardi Gras are often the only times we dress up or change our faces to present another character, persona or archetype, and these dress-ups we do in our culture are of course quite different from the Omo ways. But they are what we have to start with. It is wonderful to explore archetypes and personas with ceremonial makeup.

I have been wanting to play with others using ceremonial makeup, movement, voice, improv games and deep relaxation. I have been calling this program Free as a Bird Frolics. I would love to see this develop into a retreat of 2-3 days, either in a retreat setting in Ashland or in other locations. Right now, I am offering it for 3 hours on a Saturday afternoon.

So far, however, the tribe of players has not responded to the call. This is a bit sad of course, because it would be great fun to play together. But on the other hand it just may not be the right time, or I may not have gotten the hang of how to let others know about what I am offering, or it may be that this program is something for me to let go of.  It's good to remember that all of life is a creative exploration. Success and failure are rather static, blocky words for what is really quite a playful enterprise. It all becomes clear as we go along the path. I continue to be playful in my life, and welcome the opportunity to play with other dear humans, in whatever way the play manifests.

So if you want to play, let me know. I am sending good energy waves to you, energy waves, the play of cosmic forces.....
Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there. -- Miles Davis

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


I am always on the lookout for interesting articles, books and movies about aging, and I often link to them on the Sage's Play Facebook page.

Here are a few articles that have captured my attention recently.

This Interesting article from The Atlantic reviews research about how having a positive perspective on aging supports health and wellbeing. The article also discusses a study in which subliminal positive messages about aging worked to change people's negative beliefs on aging more effectively than writing positive stories about aging did.

"When seniors were led to subconsciously absorb positive stereotypes about old age, their physical health improved along with their self-esteem," the article's author writes.

This says a lot about the power of the subconscious mind, something that I am well aware of as a hypnotherapist and rapid eye healing practitioner.

Subliminal or "implicit" positive messages could be assimilated more easily because the person didn't have to go through the measuring, comparing and critiquing that the conscious mind is always doing, bringing up negative stereotypes or beliefs to counter the positive ones in a steady inner dialogue.

I'm not surprised by these results. And I do strongly wish for cultural change in our attitudes towards aging and old people. But I find the subliminal message method too Orwellian. Why substitute one form of brainwashing for another? Why settle for exchanging negative stereotypes for positive ones? Either way, it is still operating with stereotypes, and stereotypes reduce the variety of experience and flatten it until it is something distant from the experience of the present moment.

Collective and individual hypnosis certainly is happening all the time in the course of everyday life. But it does seem that waking from the trance, whether it be social or personal, is an essential part of maturing.

Another writer whose articles I enjoy is Dominique Browning. Recently she published an article titled  "I'm Too Old for This" in the New York Times. In it, she points out the advantages of letting go of a variety of things that once were vexing, telling us that she is too old to be bothered in those ways any more.

"And let’s just start with being an older woman, shall we? Let others feel bad about their chicken wings — and their bottoms, their necks and their multitude of creases and wrinkles. I’m too old for this. I spent years, starting before I was a teenager, feeling insecure about my looks," Browning writes, going on to reflect on her long history of concern about her appearance. It's a sweet article, in which she says " A goodbye to all that has done nothing but hold us back."

Because we're too old for that.

I am also interested in what Wendy Lustbader has to say about aging. She wrote an article recently titled "Thoughts on The Meaning of Frailty." In it, she examines our fear of becoming frail,  less a human being than an object of medical attention, at the mercy of strangers.  "To behold another is a spiritual act," she writes in the midst of her exploration. And she asks questions, like this one. "Are there ways to become more as the body becomes less? Over the years, we become accustomed to taking our worth from other people’s regard or the satisfactions of our accomplishments."

She speaks of the value of being stilled, and she investigates the rich potential for inner work that may come with frailty. A wonderfully tender, thoughtful piece of writing. Here is the link to Wendy Lustbader's article

Ashton Applewhite
Another writer whose work I follow is Ashton Applewhite, whose website is This Chair Rocks. Ashton is an eloquent and passionate anti-ageism activist.  She was recently asked to write a piece on ageism for the Playboy Forum. Her article is titled "Why Jerry Brown Can't Be President," which takes off from a show Bill Maher did in which he described ageism as the last acceptable prejudice in America.

Ashton does her usual wonders with the topic, and the article is fascinating, witty and highly readable. Raise your consciousness and have a good read, too! Here's the link to
Ashton Applewhite essay on ageism That's some of the news from the ElderBeat at least in terms of articles. Then there's the movie scene. I haven't seen the new Meryl Streep movie, or the new Lily Tomlin movie. Have you?  It looks as if the wild old woman archetype is coming out to play in both those flicks, which I look forward to whether in movies or so-called real life.

Last but certainly not least.....Here is a Sage's Play news flash: In September, we will be presenting two exciting new monthly programs, Gathering Together and Free as a Bird Frolics. One of them may be just right for you. To learn more and to register, visit the Sage's Play website. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Few of the Personas Living in My House

Dear friends: This blog contains the musings of Gaea Yudron, director of Sage's Play, which offers programs and resources for creative aging. You can find news about Sage's Play programs and resources in our newsletter. Sign up for it at our website, www.sagesplay.org

I know I have the key to this door.
The Personas
There are many, but right now I will limit it to three of them that are usually hanging around the house.  One of them is The Artist, one is The Healer, and the third is The Entrepreneur. Working with them involves plenty of creative play, improvisation, discarding, resting, enjoying the moment, caring for myself and others, cutting loose, strategizing, scheduling, organizing, networking, etc. Here's something from The Artist.

Receiving Praise: The Artist

Two readers spoke with me recently about my book Songs of the Inner Life. It is always instructive to hear what people discover in the book, what themes or passages resonate. Sometimes when I am listening to a reader, I find myself thinking, they just don't get that at all! Or it seems that the reader is fairly ho-hum in their response, either because they are guarded or because the book just didn't do much for them. Sometimes people are enthused and happy about the book, but their comments are quite pithy. So when two people are telling me within the same week that they read the book twice and say more than one sentence about their experience, it stands out.

The first woman told me, among other things,  that she thought the book was daring, that I was daring for being so intimate in writing about my life. People say that about me. It must be so. I like it when people feel more adventurous because of my own willingness to share my explorations. The second reader told me that she was reading the book out loud to her husband on the second read, which I found very touching. Reading aloud is such a beautiful way to share, and I know that my writing, at its best, is lyrical when spoken out loud. The second reader actually wrote something about Songs of the Inner Life, and I plan to put what she said on my website as soon as I can get The Entrepreneur persona to do it. Here is what she wrote.

"It is a rare delight to encounter a literary voice so wise, refreshingly honest, open-hearted and irreverent as that of Gaea Yudron in her candid yet magically surreal memoir Songs of the Inner Life. In gently lyrical, often astonishingly crystalline prose we re-live an intimate voyage of childhood from a simpler if not easier time, a coming of age in traumatically torn but rip snortingly hedonist '60's america, the blossoming of spiritual yearnings and utopian optimism into focused eco-activism and ultimately a rebirth into spiritual transcendence - & all this the mere runway of an 'ordinary' person's life onto the most transcendent human flight of consciousness - encountering one's own highest mission culminating in a life's work of service to others. Through the generous sharing of this gift I now feel Gaea Yudron as both sister-friend and potent artistic/spiritual mentor by example; both my husband and I (who read this book together) anxiously await the unique enfoldment of her next chapter in an ongoing saga of adventure, achievement, realization and love." 
                                        -- Rebecca Cintron Osvold

As an artist, I feel glad to make meaningful connections with other humans, and happy if something I do or say expands their life in some way. Yes, writers do like it when readers read their books twice, of course they do.

The Healer
Yes, grateful for every day, for the whole spectrum of life

The Artist and The Healer personas are often  hand in hand.  They have things in common--the Openness to Beauty for one thing and the wish to uplift and honor the innate harmony in life experience. Both of them wish to provide inspiration, wellbeing and refreshment.

One can often find them sitting quietly talking with each other, or sometimes dancing, or walking in the woods together.

The Healer views life as spiritual journey, and she knows that her gifts are for giving away. She is grateful for the opportunity to support others and to provide tools that open up new experiences,  perceptions and understanding.  Her intuition is keen. She meditates and prays for the wellbeing of others. A yogini lives in her. She continues to work on transforming her negative habits and patterns so that she can become a more evolved vessel.

The Entrepreneur

The Entrepreneur is often thinking about money, raising money, earning money, creating programs that bring in money. She is pondering about how to find and talk with the tribe and the audience, how to build the mailing list, how to use new technological tools to relate to others. She thinks about creating priorities in terms of program development. She wants to network, collaborate, connect, become more visible. She does relax when she connects with The Artist and The Healer from time to time, tapping into inner knowing, trusting in the process of experimentation rather than rigidly expecting to have everything neatly fall into place and work perfectly the first time.

The Entrepreneur was very happy about Into the Mystery, the first e-course Sage's Play offered, which attracted 20 participants. Marketing types told her that was very good for the first time around. She is definitely the most impatient of the three personas that are hanging around the house right now. Maybe that's good, as long as she does some deep breathing and takes some breaks in Nature and just gets out of her head at times.  She is an important part of the mix.

Culture Change and Frank Language--Helen Mirren Speaks Out at 70
“... Of course I don’t look better than I did when I was younger, without doubt...The great thing that happens is that you don’t give a flying fuck so much, that’s the thing. Yeah, I don’t look so good but I don’t care…But that is the great thing about getting older, I hope, is that you lose the incredible insecurity of youth.”

It's all relative of course, in terms of how good we look. I for example lack the glamour and polish of Helen Mirren, not to mention the wardrobe.

That's the story here, as I try to keep the personas happy with each other in the midst of a big creative blast. (cliffhanger, but more details soon)  I have been mostly indoors the past 6 days because of very unhealthy air from large wildfires in the region. But I am going out this afternoon to have tea with someone I knew over 30 years ago, who now lives in Nepal. And I plan to head over to the Wild Goose to hear some Beatles and Rolling Stones songs this evening.

Hope your various personas are enjoying this beautiful summer too.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Getting Up in Front of People

I met Harry Moody, gerontologist and author, at the Sage-ing International conference in 2012. I liked him immediately for his intelligence, empathy and easy humor. I've talked with him a few times since then, and consider him a mentor. When we first met, he was very appreciative of my performance work and told me that I should "get up in front of people."

In terms of fears, public speaking is at the top of  the list for most people.  I used to be afraid in that way, but not any more. So that is not one of my problems, though I still do have a few problems. I am trying to recall when it shifted. Hmm. It must have been at the very moment that I recognized how powerful it is to be vulnerable, make fun of yourself, and be a Fool. An awareness that has appreciated over time in my case. I don't want to make it my main shtick of course, but I always find it a reliable way to deal with mis-steps, or even deliberately orchestrate a pratfall or two. In other words, I used to be very serious, and now I am making up for it. In addition to the holy rascal play,  I love the performer-audience interaction, the collective energetics of it, the business of establishing rapport and connection, the potential there is for uplifting and opening up the field of energy.

But I have to say even though I always enjoy and am invigorated by getting up in front of people, I have not done enough of it, in terms of following Harry Moody's advice, or in terms of really enjoying myself. So I am planning to do more. Because old women want to have fun. At least this one does. She wants to have fun, most certainly, and she wants to fly into meadows of heightened awareness with others, to plunge into the deep waters of the psyche and spirit, to come up for air drenched and ecstatic, and of course she wants to Set a Good Example (SAGE).

I loved giving a talk at Unity in Ashland last Sunday, and today I am going to perform a wonderful collection of poetry at the Ashland library in a program I've been calling "The Poetry of Aging." I got a nice writeup in the local paper the other day about it. If you like you can take a look at Angela Decker's article here.

I plan to present "The Poetry of Aging" again this fall at the Medford library, and I would love to give my rousing talk in praise of old age at more churches. But to really get up in front of people, it looks like I am going to have to write and produce my one-woman show Bolder and Wiser. I still have the gypsy wagon fantasy, and I can imagine doing a road trip and performing Bolder and Wiser in various places. Yes, I can imagine that. In fact, it feels like it would be wonderful fun. So stay tuned.

"Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."
             --Pablo Picasso

This evocative painting was posted on Facebook the other day.  Its title is "Evening Seed Bubbles," and it was created by British artist Emma Sian-Pritchard. You can view some other paintings of hers at this site. If you are a fan of decorative art, you will enjoy Folt Bolt a site created by Hungarian artist  Kriszta Kemeny who currently lives in Australia.
Eighty Year Old Pop Idols
Okinawan pop idols in Japan
Dahlias, zinnias and lavender from Kate's garden
Another article that bemused me recently is one from The Guardian, a British paper.  It tells the story of a group of women from Okinawa who have become pop idols in Japan. All of the group members are over 80!  Click on the link to read the Article about a group of older women 
from Okinawa, a place where people live a long time and apparently know how to enjoy themselves in the process.....I do suspect those two things are linked. Don't you?

Difficult Vegetables
To change the subject ever so slightly, my last blog regarding using difficult vegetables in a tasty way elicited two responses from readers--one was a great recipe for chocolate zucchini cake and the other a suggestion to make zucchini chips. The second reader told me of her fondness for lavender butter over green beans. Some people are so exotic. I wish she were cooking for me, at least occasionally.
Thanks to both of you for sharing your difficult vegetable suggestions.

Friends,  I hope that your artful life is going well. Keep in touch!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

At the Moment: Elder Housesharing Report

My housemate Kate Nehrbass has done aikido for 30 years
I was still traveling in Mexico early this year when Kate Nehrbass emailed me asking whether I would like to share her house. Kate and I have lived in Ashland for many years and we have a number of mutual friends, but we never really spent any time with each other.

The idea of living in her big, welcoming house up in the wooded area of Ashland was appealing, and I sensed that Kate and I could get along as housemates just fine, so I agreed. It felt good to have such a sweet place to land when I returned from Mexico.

And it has turned out to be an excellent experience. Kate is easy to live with and getting to know her better is delightful. She loves to travel and to garden, and she loves kids. Her young friends are often at the house, and she is generous in taking them to camps, plays, and other outings. Kate is also engaged in Buddhism, and that is a beautiful common ground.  I admire her generosity and kindness. Since I arrived, we have been getting along with each other quite well. Harmony in the house! That is so good. And living here with the myriad birds that appear, and the beautiful big garden and nearby hiking trails is also so good.

A beautiful line of old lavender bushes blooms at the side of the garden
I've been engaged in elder housesharing for about 7 years. To me it makes sense. It keeps housing expenses down, provides companionship and friendly engagement and exposes me to new perspectives and people. I imagine that I will keep doing it. It's like a return to the communal days of yore in some ways. But without the constant partying and late nights.

Yes, to be successful the house share must meet your basic requirements in terms of beauty, orderliness, comfort and welcome, and the housemate must be sympatico.

Kale on its way into the oven to become kale chips
 House sharing is becoming more and more popular with older adults. There are a number of national and regional organizations that help match compatible housemates, such as the National Shared Housing Resource Center, a clearinghouse to help folks find a shared housing organization in their community--or start one. There's even an international homeshare organization based in London, which shares news about organizations in eight countries.

Confession Regarding Kale

My friend Sondra can make delicious things with kale, but I have never discovered how to do it. We have some beautiful kale growing in the garden, and I was happy to discover that not only could I make kale chips, but that they are incredibly delicious, so delicious that I simply finish them off in one meal. I am not one of those fanatics who eats kale 3 times a day, but now that I have found kale chips, I make a batch a couple of times a week. It is very easy. Just cut the center spine from the kale leaf and coat the kale leaf with olive oil. I like to do it with my hands, but you could use a brush. Put the kale on a cookie sheet and bake it in an oven set to 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Stay nearby and check it. It can burn easily. Very tasty and of course nutritious.

Butterflies, flowers, the beauty of the summer garden
The Dread Time of Much Zucchini Approacheth

I love vegetables. Kale and zucchini are not at the top of my list though. Now that I have discovered kale chips, I will endeavor to find some delicious ways to present zucchini, which is already very abundant in our garden. This is a good problem to have. We enjoy bountiful foods here. May all beings be this fortunate.

About the Earth

I just finished reading Joanna Macy's memoir Widening Circles.  What a life she has led, and what beneficial work she has created to restore and heal humans and the Earth. Though I do not speak of it much in this blog, I contemplate the state of our planet and our species every day. Lacking omniscience, I cannot foretell what will happen on the Earth. I do pray about it. I pray for those peoples displaced from their homelands, now so many millions of them, for the rivers, jungles, mountains, oceans, creatures, for the elements, for all of us living now in this era. And I highly recommend this book, and the engaged Buddhism of Joanna Macy. She is a real bodhisattva.

Severe Resistence to Oldness--May the Right Medicine Appear to Cure It

The other day I had a meeting with someone I admire and in the course of our conversation he told me that his 85-year old neighbor got very insulted and upset when someone in a social gathering complemented her on being an elder. Vehemently, she insisted that she was not an elder. She was a sailor and a tennis player. Ah, my goodness dearie. Some kind of soul sickness. I want to read her this quote from the African author and teacher Malidoma Patrice Some--but maybe she just wouldn't get it immersed as she is in grasping onto her vitality. Ah, I have plenty more to say on the subject of Elders in Denial, but will save it for another time. Here is the quote.

“Elders and mentors have an irreplaceable function in the life of any community. Without them the young are lost, their overflowing energies wasted in useless pursuits. The old must live in the young like a grounding force that tames the tendency toward bold but senseless actions and shows them the path of wisdom. In the absence of elders, the impetuosity of youth becomes the slow death of the community.”