Saturday, December 29, 2012

At the Year's End

“Spring passes and one remembers one's innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers one's exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers one's reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one's perseverance.” 
 --Yoko Ono

“Winter is not a season, it's an occupation.” --Sinclair Lewis

Both of these quotes speak to me. It's winter, and the end of another year. A time to reflect on the year that is ending and imagine the year to come.  That is what I will be doing the next few days, while I enjoy the company of my daughter's dog Samo.

This morning I woke way before the dawn. I am glad to be in my dear little cottage, and glad to be breathing in and out and feeling quite fine.  The white narcissus on the dining table are finished blooming, but the lovely coral-colored Christmas cactus and the happy purple blossoms of the African violet enliven my kitchen. I have a box full of persimmons my daughter gave me as she left to visit one of her good friends in Atlanta. I am thinking of making some persimmon pudding to begin with. Perhaps I'll freeze some of them. I love cooking, though I don't usually talk about that much here.

My circle gathering at Skylark Assisted Living yesterday went very well. I will be doing another circle there in January. It is different from gathering a circle in the wider community, because many people at Skylark have various forms of cognitive impairment. Four of the seven people who came to our circle yesterday "had their lights on" as my friend Kate describes it. We reflected, played, and laughed. It was tender. It was also sobering to be with several others who were not easily able to participate or keep track.

Kate is one of my oldest and dearest friends. She lives at Skylark now because she has a hereditary neurological disease that affects her movement and balance. Her mind remains keen. Our friendship has bloomed since she arrived at Skylark. She is a wonderful example of relaxing into a radical life change with grace. She sheds light as she goes. She has paradoxically also gotten more ascerbic as she ages. Her observations on human foibles, including her own, are often funny and trenchant. Bless her. I am so glad that we are friends.

Yesterday on Facebook, I found out about a movie titled How to Live Forever. Made in 2009, it is a documentary whose underlying theme is embracing aging. I ordered a copy and I'm excited about viewing it and reviewing it, too.

I wanted to share this positive aging poster that I learned about on Ronni Bennett's blog Time Goes By. Ronni covers many topics and issues of aging, and her blog is well worth reading. This poster is available from Syracuse Cultural Workers. It was developed by Portland, Oregon elder care attorney Orrin R. Onkin, who writes for Ronni's blog from time to time.

I like the positive messages it promotes. Many older adults internalize negative stereotypes about aging without even realizing it, and like any kind of prejudice, ageism has a negative impact on mental and physical health. I plan to get a copy of this to share at my upcoming classes and circles.

I am preparing for a 3-session class I will be offering in January and February--it is titled Retirement, Refirement and Successful Aging. It will meet at OLLI, our local Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, which is based on the campus of Southern Oregon University.

I will also be offering a class titled The Adventure of Aging in Ashland, starting in February. It will meet twice a month on Saturday afternoons. I'll share some of what we will be doing in an upcoming post. Or email me. I plan to start offering online courses sometime soon, too.

My friend Serena gave me a hand reading before we left on our Mayan cruise trip together. She says the lines on my hands indicate more travel, teaching, leadership, public speaking, performing and visibility, among other things. All that is just peachy with me. I love working with groups in class and workshop settings, and I love performing, too.  I want to move out with the messages of creative, conscious aging.

In terms of mood enhancement, it is inevitable that I contemplate images of spring and summer during the winter. It keeps me moving along when the weather is gray, rainy and snowy. Both of these places pictured below are quite appealing to me on this cold morning. I am getting an acupuncture treatment this morning. That helps, as do soaks in the hot springs, dancing, laughing and having a meal or a movie with friends, taking a walk up in the hills and getting some exercise at the Y. 

Those are some of the things I do to enhance my wellbeing in the cold season. How do you take care of yourself and bring joy into your life in the winter?

Oh, I also wanted to mention that my talk about creative, positive aging with Craig Comstock for his show Like Wow! is available at our website home page,

That's the story here. I am going to mull over the past year, maybe with some mulled wine. Oh, and the persimmon pudding.

I am going to spend time dreaming up my vision for the year to come.

I am going to welcome helpers, partners and allies to this creative, conscious aging work. I am dreaming up a colleague or partner who is excited about this work and who has the skills to help with marketing, pr and outreach.

Who knows, I could travel to a sunny beach before the winter is over.
Whether that happens or not, I wish each of you a beautiful new year full of blessings and happy surprises.

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