Essays & Commentary

Are We a Tribe?

Why Women need a Tribe                  

Tanja Taljaard and Azriel Re'Shel, writing in 2016, think so.  So do I.
In truth, I think we are one...with some familial tension among us on most days...

I've posted this link, with only a quick scan, to save it for us, and to follow some interesting links...
My tribe, however, does not require chanting, incense, beads, shawls, or paint. 
Though it is quite possible that any or all of these things might come in handy at one point or another.


"Old age should burn and rave..." or maybe not...

Riffin' on Ronni Bennett again.  She is now under hospice care at home.

She says no.
"Going gentle into my personal good night is one reason I have embraced medical aid in dying.
Those drugs will send me on my way quietly without a prolonged period of decline or pain."

I confess that I tend to lean into the idea (of suicide), if not the reality.

But/and I know that a bit of depression is so common now that it is effecting almost everyone.  (and I have my therapist on Speed Dial!)
I've wondered about suicide rates in these months. There has been a lot written about the subject, mostly from a therapeutic POV.
You'll find no end of articles on Google if you're so inclined.

I'm completely with Ronni regarding attitude, though. I want to go gently. I believe it's a 'good night'.
The hard part now, when I contemplate my death, is the solitude the pandemic has/is enforcing.
I really don't want to die now...
...when it might be days before anyone knows it.
...or when someone might stop by and find Mango picking katecrone out of his teeth.    That's funny, you know.

And I kind of hope someone will be standing by, even though I know I'll make that trip alone.

 

 


"What it's like to be dying"

I'm not going to comment on this post today. Just want to post it here.  (How I long for our group meetings...)

This is from Ronni Bennett, one of the Internet's recognized experts on aging, who has been told now, that she qualifies for Hospice
...meaning her doctor expects her to have less than 6 months to live. 

Her words in this post from June 15th, are worthy of our time, and may even inform some of our own choices in our futures.

I've found that Ronni has quite a presence on the wider web, as well.    
If you're curious, an online search will turn up several interviews and a Wikipedia entry.           

 

  


"Question to self: When is it too late to change one’s default state?"

The title of this post comes from an essay I'm eager to share with you. Click here to read the full article.
It was written by Charlotte Wood, originally for The Griffith Review, a literary magazine from Australia; and now published by The Guardian. 

This essay's title is "What Are We Really Afraid of When We Think of Old Age? Ms. Wood writes from the POV of a woman in her mid 50's, and begins her essay with this question:

"In a black-and-white thinking culture, how should we consider the richness of who we are in old age?"

I really like thinking about "the richness" of old age. Mine is proving to be so.
Not far into the article, she mentions an elderly gerontologist she met at a dinner. He recounted tales of some of his patients and at one point..   I quote her here:

"Later, he asked me: “How many years of your life would you trade for a Booker Prize?”

“What?!  None!” I replied. I was surprised at the vehemence and speed of my answer, and that I knew it to be absolutely true.

Then he asked, “What if they were the years between 85 and 95?”

Hmmm."


Would you trade some of your years for anything?  Would you if you could pick the years?

She writes:
"
Our predictions for old age foresee an epoch of physical incapacity and psychic misery, in contrast with our vital, flourishing youth. But last night on my couch I spent five minutes scribbling down a list of the troubles that plagued me and those in my social circle – middle class, well educated, well resourced – before we turned 50."

She follows this with a list of illnesses, conditions, and other frailties that she knows of among her younger friends. The list she came up with is about 3-4 times as long as the quoted paragraph above. 

Attitudes about aging vary widely. This is clear in her article. What is also clear is that most of the harsher attitudes come from the Youngers among us. We old folks tend to take it much better, "finding greater contentment, more peace, more comfort with ambiguity, deeper gratitude, and a focus on more meaningful engagement in the present."

I'm tempted to quote more, but then you'd have nothing to read! 


A Woman Living Alone

Subtitled "Seven Stories of Solitude During the Coronavirus, from ages 24 to 86",  this story comes from the Washington Post
and is written by Caroline Kitchener.       

I'm not going to reprint it here, though I recommend it to you as an interesting read.
Our group includes four women who live alone:  Jessica, Angie, Irma, and me. 
Irma is without pets, too; Angie, do you have animals?

I'm not sure if or how that might make our experience during this social isolation different from
the experience the rest of you are having. But I think it might be interesting to explore.
(and sometimes I'm just fishing for stuff to do...)
  


 

 

 


MAID: Medical Aid in Dying and/or Death w/Dignity (and a mention of Death Doulas)

Ronni's blog post today... titled as above without the parenthetical phrase.

I'm not going to reprint it here; it's an easy jump to her page. As you may remember, she has pancreatic cancer and COPD. She is THREE years past the cancer diagnosis and surprised to be here still. She expected death much sooner.

She has had the 1st conversation with her doctor about the options and requirements of using that law, and discusses that conversation openly, clearly and, in her style, without emotion. She has broken much ground in sharing information about aging and now about dying. I hope you'll choose to read this and other posts from her.

I want to comment on the terms being used by the lawmakers. I'm with Ronni on this point: 
With the possible exception of sudden violent trauma (accidents, wars, etc.), ALL deaths are accomplished with dignity.
To name such a compassionate law Death with Dignity implies that other deaths are somehow less dignified, less noble, less than. 
That irritates some bone in the back of my brain!!
Might just be me and semantics, again, but I believe the words we choose carry a certain energy.

Some states use the other phrase: Medical Aid in Dying - MAID. The acronym is not thrilling to me, but the whole phrase seems more appropriate. That is also the terminology used in Canada, though one comment on the blog post did say that finding doctors willing to follow the law upon request is difficult, because many Canadian docs refuse to prescribe the legal drugs citing religious conflict.
It's heartless and ridiculous that we in the US treat our pets better than our families. 
(I make an intentional distinction between pets and livestock.)

She also mentions Death Doulas for the first time... or perhaps that was a commenter. I'm curious about your knowledge of that field. Have you heard of Death Doulas? I'll include a link or two I've been following recently if you're interested in learning a little about it. Do you think that a doula would be a welcome part of your dying process?
Going With Grace   a website by Alua Arthur   Read about her on the 'About' page at the link. 
YouTube home of Going with Grace. She has many 1 minute videos you might enjoy.

A Minute on the Life Lottery  a video by Alua Arthur. This is literally 58 seconds long. and joyous! and a wonderful POV on life.
Watch it now:


Deathbed Planning is a 9.33 minute video done by Mortician, Caitlin Doughty of YouTube's Ask a Mortician. She's spotlighting Alua Arthur's work showing what Caitlin's deathbed might look like and what might be done. Caitlin's website.  

NONE of these links or videos are remotely depressing. Caitlin is a practicing mortician and is on the front lines of what is known as the Death Positive Movement.
I'm definitely interested in the possibility of a doula for my own death.

I hope you'll read and comment on the post.  (I might have a tiny crush on this woman!)
Thanks. 
  

 

 


Distance and Solidarity a poem by Chase Beach

Kate H. shared this poem with us by email today. It seems like a good fit here. 

 


Distance and Solidarity

This puzzling reality we are all facing, 
that in order to stay safe 
we must stay away. 

We stay away 
in order to remain, in a way, together.
 
If we are afraid enough
of one another, 
or FOR one another, 
we may be able 
to save each other. 
 
Love and fear, 
distance and solidarity 
have never been 
so obviously conjoined. 
 
Thanks, Kate.

Our Random Thoughts about and/or during the Covid-19 Pandemic

This post will contain the random comments we send to each other thru the Salon email group.
We might want to look back one day...

3/30/20 from Kate: (copied from elsewhere on this site)
"Kate shared this by email the other day and gave me permission to post it here with her comment.  

To Live 

To live content with small means;
To seek elegance rather than luxury, and style rather than fashion;
To be worthy, not respectable and wealthy, not rich;
To apply talent, think quietly, talk kindly, act frankly;
To listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages with open heart;
To bear all patiently, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never;
In short, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common.
This is my symphony.
    -
H. Channing 

"Thank you all for being women who spur me to all these aspirations, and accept me when I miss them by a mile."   - Kate H.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

4-15-20 from Kate H.
"You’ve probably all thought of this but I will voice it for us all.  This all makes more [me] grateful for every breath I take
while so many struggle; makes me face again the fragility of my life, the wonder of the body’s delicate balance and the beautiful horror of how a viral molecule can send the world to its knees. Carpe down" (I'm guessing that auto-correct ate the word Diem)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

4/15/20 from Jess:
"I love you all! 

I love that we can embrace and share, even from a distance (for now).
Thank you, Nona, for the gift of the poem.
Thank you, Kate for your words of wisdom on gratitude.
And for all the ways you ALL inspire simply by your presence and through your comments in this thread.
Happiness, hugs, & blessings to you all as we continue to navigate our new world...
All my love~"
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

One Hundred Thousand

 

100,000 now, but I am unable to see or hear or feel

what it means, really means —-
to the bride whose dad won’t walk her down the aisle,
to the mom who dreamed her graduate”s dreams,
or the man who lost the one, gone at 45, who showed him how to be a man. 

 

I can’t see the tears

or hear the weeping

or feel the depth of anguish

at not being there

to hold their hand

look in those eyes

or say I’ll miss you so much. 

I can’t imagine. 

 

100,000 

times 

20 hearts full of memories

times 

scores of nights filled with tears

times 

a myriad long days with no voice in the house

no calls from him

no stories to hear or tell. 

 

But I can look at those 1,000 names on a New York Times front page and try to imagine the
99 pages more it would take to know all your names. 

 

It’s not fair 

you got the short straw,

not fair the one who wore no mask that day,

not fair that the share of love you earned 

is costing your loved ones an equal share of pain. 

 

100,000 now. 

 

-Kate H.  May 27, 2020


Covid & Climate & Summer...

Climate Change Won't Stop for the Corona Pandemic.

it's a long read and not fun.

 
I do know that most, if not all, of my friends are smart and savvy on many levels.
I share this from an excess of caution and love, and because we all know people who are not smart.

So while you're keeping yourself safe from the virus, remember to prepare early for possible other SH*t that may go on later.
Love you. Miss you.




Kate


To Live...

Kate shared this by email the other day and gave me permission to post it here with her comment.  

To Live 

To live content with small means;
To seek elegance rather than luxury, and style rather than fashion;
To be worthy, not respectable and wealthy, not rich;
To apply talent, think quietly, talk kindly, act frankly;
To listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages with open heart;
To bear all patiently, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never;
In short, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common.
This is my symphony.
    -
H. Channing 

 

"Thank you all for being women who spur me to all these aspirations, and accept me when I miss them by a mile."   - Kate H.                                                                                         


"The Dakini Speaks" and "On Meeting Death" by Jennifer Welwood

The Dakini Speaks

 

My friends, let’s grow up.
Let’s stop pretending we don’t know the deal here.
Or if we truly haven’t noticed, let’s wake up and notice.
Look: Everything that can be lost, will be lost.
It’s simple — how could we have missed it for so long?
Let’s grieve our losses fully, like ripe human beings,
But please, let’s not be so shocked by them.
Let’s not act so betrayed,
As though life had broken her secret promise to us.
Impermanence is life’s only promise to us,
And she keeps it with ruthless impeccability.
To a child she seems cruel, but she is only wild,
And her compassion exquisitely precise:
Brilliantly penetrating, luminous with truth,
She strips away the unreal to show us the real.
This is the true ride — let’s give ourselves to it!
Let’s stop making deals for a safe passage:
There isn’t one anyway, and the cost is too high.
We are not children anymore.
The true human adult gives everything for what cannot be lost.
Let’s dance the wild dance of no hope!

written by Jennifer Welwood of No Mind's Land        

And while creating the links here, I found This One!!   

 

On Meeting Death

Tonight, Pluto, with the crescent moon as my witness,
I welcome you as my lover.
If you have come to break down my door,
See, I have opened it,
And wait here for you at its threshold.
If you have come to tear off my clothes,
I have flung them aside already,
And stand naked, shivering gladly.
If you have come to hurl me into the abyss,
Watch now, as I release all false supports, one by one,
And fall toward you in ecstasy.
Hear this, Pluto, lord of transformative fire:
What you have come to take from me, I offer you.


Pandemic by Lynn Unger

Pandemic by Lynn Unger            

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love-
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live. 

 

I did not write this. I mean no copyright infringement. I post here because this is beautiful and important.                                          


An Imagined Letter from COVID-19 to Humans by Kristin Flyntz

An Imagined Letter from COVID-19 to Humans by Kristin Flyntz

Stop. Just stop.
It is no longer a request. It is a mandate.
We will help you.

We will bring the supersonic, high speed merry-go-round to a halt
We will stop
the planes
the trains
the schools
the malls
the meetings
the frenetic, furied rush of illusions and “obligations” that keep you from hearing our
single and shared beating heart,
the way we breathe together, in unison.
Our obligation is to each other,
As it has always been, even if, even though, you have forgotten.

We will interrupt this broadcast, the endless cacophonous broadcast of divisions and distractions,
to bring you this long-breaking news:
We are not well.
None of us; all of us are suffering.
Last year, the firestorms that scorched the lungs of the earth
did not give you pause.
Nor the typhoons in Africa, China, Japan.
Nor the fevered climates in Japan and India.
You have not been listening.
It is hard to listen when you are so busy all the time, hustling to uphold the comforts and conveniences that scaffold your lives.
But the foundation is giving way,
buckling under the weight of your needs and desires.
We will help you.
We will bring the firestorms to your body
We will bring the fever to your body
We will bring the burning, searing, and flooding to your lungs
that you might hear:
We are not well.

Despite what you might think or feel, we are not the enemy.
We are Messenger. We are Ally. We are a balancing force.
We are asking you:
To stop, to be still, to listen;
To move beyond your individual concerns and consider the concerns of all;
To be with your ignorance, to find your humility, to relinquish your thinking minds and travel deep into the mind of the heart;
To look up into the sky, streaked with fewer planes, and see it, to notice its condition: clear, smoky, smoggy, rainy? How much do you need it to be healthy so that you may also be healthy?
To look at a tree, and see it, to notice its condition: how does its health contribute to the health of the sky, to the air you need to be healthy?
To visit a river, and see it, to notice its condition: clear, clean, murky, polluted? How much do you need it to be healthy so that you may also be healthy? How does its health contribute to the health of the tree, who contributes to the health of the sky, so that you may also be healthy?

Many are afraid now.
Do not demonize your fear, and also, do not let it rule you. Instead, let it speak to you—in your stillness,
listen for its wisdom.
What might it be telling you about what is at work, at issue, at risk, beyond the threats of personal inconvenience and illness?
As the health of a tree, a river, the sky tells you about the quality of your own health, what might the quality of your health tell you about the health of the rivers, the trees, the sky, and all of us who share this planet with you?

Stop.
Notice if you are resisting.
Notice what you are resisting.
Ask why.

Stop. Just stop.
Be still.
Listen.
Ask us what we might teach you about illness and healing, about what might be required so that all may be well.
We will help you, if you listen.

~ Kristin Flyntz 3.12.2020

I did not write this. I mean no copyright infringement. I share because it is powerful, beautiful, and important.

                     


“Do not lose heart. We were made for these times.” Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D. is "an American poet, psychoanalyst, and post-trauma specialist who was raised in now nearly vanished oral and ethnic traditions. She is a first-generation American who grew up in a rural village, population 600, near the Great Lakes."You may remember her "Women Who Run With the Wolves". In this insightful article Estes reassures us that we are, indeed, made for these times.

Consider this excerpt:


          "Yet … I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. 
         
Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is – we were made for these times.

Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement. I cannot tell you often enough that we are definitely the leaders we have been waiting for, and that we have been raised, since childhood, for this time precisely.

…I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able crafts in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.

I would like to take your hands for a moment and assure you that you are built well for these times. Despite your stints of doubt, your frustrations in arighting all that needs change right now, or even feeling you have lost the map entirely, you are not without resource, you are not alone."

And then continue to enjoy her encouraging words. 


Ursula K. Le Guin on Being a Man

This article was found on Brain Pickings, written by Maria Popova.  I keep going to unsubscribe from her newsletters only to find so many more interesting things, that I just never unsub... 

Ursula K. Le Guin was a very influential American writer (October 21, 1929 – January 22, 2018). "Frequently described as an author of science fiction, Le Guin has also been called a "major voice in American Letters", and herself said she would prefer to be known as an "American novelist"."

"She blends anthropology, social psychology, and sheer literary artistry to explore complex, often difficult subjects with remarkable grace. Subjects, for instance, like who we are and what gender really means as we — men, women, ungendered souls — try to inhabit our constant tussle between inner and outer, individual and social, private and performative.

"This is what Le Guin examines in an extraordinary essay titled “Introducing Myself,” which Le Guin first wrote as a performance piece in the 1980s and later updated for the beautifully titled, beautifully written, beautifully wide-ranging 2004 collection The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination. To speak of a subject so common by birth and so minced by public discourse in a way that is completely original and completely compelling is no small feat — in fact, it is the kind of feat of writing Jack Kerouac must have had in mind when he contemplated the crucial difference between genius and talent."

Consider this excerpt:                    
 
"I am a man. Now you may think I’ve made some kind of silly mistake about gender, or maybe that I’m trying to fool you, because my first name ends in a, and I own three bras, and I’ve been pregnant five times, and other things like that that you might have noticed, little details. But details don’t matter… I predate the invention of women by decades. Well, if you insist on pedantic accuracy, women have been invented several times in widely varying localities, but the inventors just didn’t know how to sell the product. Their distribution techniques were rudimentary and their market research was nil, and so of course the concept just didn’t get off the ground. Even with a genius behind it an invention has to find its market, and it seemed like for a long time the idea of women just didn’t make it to the bottom line. Models like the Austen and the Brontë were too complicated, and people just laughed at the Suffragette, and the Woolf was way too far ahead of its time."      

With wit and charm, Le Guin continues her essay On Being a Man. 

I do hope you'll read it, and perhaps, enjoy it as much as I did. 
                          

 


An Acronym to Help Notice Stroke Symptoms

When I read the easy way to remember stroke symptoms below, I thought about all of us.
These may be familiar to you already, but I readily knew only 3 of the 6.
So I include them bc I want us all to be ready, since time is critical when symptoms occur.

The acronym = BE FAST

Balance – Is there a sudden loss of balance or coordination?

Eyes – Is there sudden blurred or double vision or sudden, persistent vision trouble?

Face – Ask the person to smile. Is one or both sides of the face drooping?

Arms – Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one side drift downward? Is there weakness or numbness on one side?

Speech – Does the person have slurred or garbled speech? Can he/she repeat simple phrases?

Time – Call 911 for immediate medical attention if you notice one or more of these signs. Also, take note of when symptoms began.

“May you be well in body and mind.“ ❤️                -Kate H.


Why it’s So Tempting to Build Walls and Shut People Out (and what to do instead)

The article linked here adds to our conversation regarding 'to add or not to add' a new member or two and comes from TED.com

The intro begins like this:

"Why do humans often want to create a world of “us” vs. “them”? And what can we do about this unhelpful, often damaging, yet somehow reassuring instinct? Psychiatrist Robert Waldinger has some useful advice."

The article seems important to me because I still want to increase our membership just a little, and because, as many of you, I'm really concerned about how polarized we in America - and the world - have become.
This article, along with others that address how we are so often committed to those friends, news agents, mentors, preachers, etc., who support and report on issues from our own points of view, rather than diligently seeking out broader perspectives. 

The 'what to do instead' parts of the article are informative and creative. I'd like to see us consider them one day.
Meanwhile, an enriching topic for discussion might be 'Our Biases, and How We Came to Them'. and perhaps, 'How do They Serve Us Now'.

Meanwhile, I found these two definitions from Merriam Webster relevant and clarifying.

Bias

a : an inclination of temperament or outlook especially : a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment : prejudice
b
: an instance of such prejudice
c : bent, tendency
(1)
: deviation of the expected value of a statistical estimate from the quantity it estimates
   
(2) : systematic error introduced into sampling or testing by selecting or encouraging one outcome or answer over others

Prejudice

1 : injury or damage resulting from some judgment or action of another in disregard of one's rights especially
   : detriment to one's legal rights or claims
2 a (1) : preconceived judgment or opinion
      (2) : an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge
   b : an instance of such judgment or opinion
   c : an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics

 

(I'll also link the article in our List of Links and the topic in our list of same.)

 


The Case for Adding New & Younger Members

All of you know that I continue to hope for a larger number of women in our Salon.
Much of that hope is based on reasons I've stated before, one being having a congenial number present when some of us are otherwise engaged, whether it be travel or illness, etc.

Another reason, and perhaps a better one, stems from my reading about Co-housing and what makes them work. Multi-generational groups fare much better over time than those limited to Olders.  We're more likely to age successfully in place if there is a range of ages, strengths, abilities, etc.  In such groups, generally, Elders' responsibilities for various maintenance tasks decrease as their ages and abilities decrease. Without multi-generational partners more of this work has to be 'hired out', so to speak.

“The real fountain of youth is the fountain with youth.”  -Marc Freedman

This thought comes from an article I found online, called "The Real Trick to Staying Young Forever"
I confess, I was triggered by the 'young forever' part and started to read so that I could argue.  

It mentions a study begun in 1938 (not a typo) that tracked 268 Harvard sophomores for EIGHTY years.  This study found that relationships, especially those with multi-generations, produced the greatest physical and mental health.

These relationships don't just benefit we Elders, though.
Another 40 year study in Hawaii followed 700 children from the age of 1 to age 40 and focused on resilience.
Their short definition of resilience was defined as "why some kids thrive under adversity and others do not".
You can guess their results and why it's included here.

The article also talks about how the generations came to be so separate; the consequences of this separation, and how we might get back together.
And it touches on a Cleveland Elder living community that offers an artist-in-residence program for young musicians which exchanges housing for concerts and interaction at meals, etc.  The article also mentions in brief several other programs designed to connect young people with Elders.

"Almost eight in 10 people between 18 and 24 and the over-65s want life to slow down, and social care
for older people remains the second-highest concern for 18-to-34-year-olds.
The issue is not whether they have anything in common, but how to connect them."    -from the article

Yes, this is me proselytizing. I hope you enjoy the article.   Kate W.   


Who's going to write your obituary?

Information for this post came from this Washington Post article linked to Facebook.

Obituaries seem almost a thing of the past. And they can get really expensive, really fast.
Most newspapers these days might give you a column inch for free, maybe, but you won't get space for any real information.

If you type "How to Write an Obituary" into any search engine, you'll get a boatload of articles. Blogger, mortuaries, death doulas, etc. all have opinions on how it should be done. When I searched for HT publish an obituary for free, I got only 2 links.  You can hire a professional to write one for you...for a cost that could be $100 or more.

I didn't use a professional.
Joel had always meant to write her own. Did she?    no.
Had no real clue as to what...  knew I wanted her to have one. Turned out she got two. :)
I had to wait for inspiration before I could write hers, though I started it many times.  I started it first in the weeks not long after she died.
But she didn't actually inspire me toward the right words until November. We celebrated her on what would have been her 75th birthday in 2015.

Joel's obituary was published in the Ruidoso News (at almost $300 - she paid it from her life insurance!) and was published online here.
I'm proud of it. :)
And I've started my own. Its tentative beginning sounds like this, and includes notes:

"Title: Hallelujah! I’m finally dead!
I died contentedly on _________, from the consequences of the choices I made in my life. What a Ride!   (you can edit in a disease, if you must, and if I had one.)"

It goes on from there, but you'll have to await publication to read it all! :)

So, what do you think? Are you writing your own? want to?
Let's talk...

 


The Cure for Toxic Positivity

The Cure for Toxic Positivity is an article by Rebecca Renner, a journalist and fiction writer who's bylines include the Washington Post, Paris Review, and Tin House.

I've wondered if I am just naturally contrary partly because my mind leaps to "evaluate" words, sentences & thoughts for their energy content. And because I had not seen/heard anyone talking about too much positivity. This article, then, was encouraging. Many commenters felt the same, and some pointed to books and other articles.  As a result, I've learned there are Many more such resources for those interested.
And I've got one more reason to trust my intuition.   :)


Identity Politics - Opinions and links

Identity Politics is the current buzz phrase for Labels. Like we need MORE of those. And yet, we use them all the time.
They can help us find our tribe, I suppose; they can help define a search if you're looking for a forum online - say, RV travel, as an example.
Or Gay, if you're on a dating site and want to limit the responses.

But more and more, they divide us into Us & Them.
You can see that within our group as we decide how and when to allow new women into the group.
By the way: Women: one of our labels.
Here are some of mine: Crone, woman, Lesbian, student, teacher, dancer, centrist, singer, survivor of Fundamentalism and of Christianism.
You can add Former daughter, aunt, cousin, friend, helper, instigator...  it all depends on how I 'identify' in any given circumstance, and/or how you see me through your own filters.

And the real truth is that the more we cling to our labels, the less we know of ourselves, the more likely we are to close our minds to any new idea, to new people, to new points of view.

If you spend any time at all among the posts and comments on Social Media, you know this is true.

I came across this article today, written by Maria Popova of Brain Pickings. She has another take on this label thing.
“A Gentle Corrective for the Epidemic of Identity Politics Turning Us on Each Other and on Ourselves”

Her research is extensive; though, since she claims "reader" as one of her labels she may just know some of this stuff!
There are several great quotes of other writers such as James Baldwin, John O'Donohue, Descarte, John Quinn, and others. Near the bottom of the article, she links to essays by Margaret Meade, Barack Obama, Walt Whitman.
This one is Maria's own:  

            "...we now cling to our identity-fragments, using them as badges and badgering artillery in confronting the templated identity-fragments of others." (emphasis mine)       

This one from James Baldwin is a new favorite of mine:    

“This collision between one’s image of oneself and what one actually is is always very painful and there are two things you can do about it, you can meet the collision head-on and try and become what you really are or you can retreat and try to remain what you thought you were, which is a fantasy, in which you will certainly perish.”

I do hope you'll read this article and maybe follow a link or two. I think it would be good fodder for conversation.

 

 


"How Contemporary American Medicine is Testing Us to Death"

This is the subtitle of an article by Barbara Ehrenreich, published on April 9, 2019.   I like her theory a little more every day... 
(Reprinting here in its entirety; no copyright infringement intended. This is solely the work of the author.)

Barbara Ehrenreich: Why I’m Giving Up on Preventative Care

In the last few years I have given up on the many medical measures—cancer screenings, annual exams, Pap smears, for example—expected of a responsible person with health insurance. This was not based on any suicidal impulse. It was barely even a decision, more like an accumulation of micro-decisions: to stay at my desk and meet a deadline or show up at the primary care office and submit to the latest test to gauge my biological sustainability; to spend the afternoon in faux-cozy corporate environment of a medical facility or to go for a walk. At first I criticized myself as a slacker and procrastinator, falling behind on the simple, obvious stuff that could prolong my life. After all, this is the great promise of modern scientific medicine: You do not have to get sick and die (at least not for a while), because problems can be detected “early” when they are readily treatable. Better to catch a tumor when it’s the size of an olive than that of a cantaloupe.

I knew I was going against my own long-standing bias in favor of preventive medical care as opposed to expensive and invasive high-tech curative interventions. What could be more ridiculous than an inner-city hospital that offers a hyperbaric chamber but cannot bestir itself to get out in the neighborhood and test for lead poisoning? From a public health perspective, as well as a personal one, it makes far more sense to screen for preventable problems than to invest huge resources in the treatment of the very ill.

I also understood that I was going against the grain for my particular demographic. Most of my educated, middle-class friends had begun to double down on their health-related efforts at the onset of middle age, if not earlier. They undertook exercise or yoga regimens; they filled their calendars with upcoming medical tests and exams; they boasted about their “good” and “bad” cholesterol counts, their heart rates and blood pressure. Mostly they understood they the task of aging to be self-denial, especially in the realm of diet, where one medical fad, one study or another, condemned fat and meat, carbs, gluten, dairy, or all animal-derived products. In the health-conscious mind-set that has prevailed among the world’s affluent people for about four decades now, health is indistinguishable from virtue, tasty foods are “sinfully delicious,” while healthful foods may taste good enough to be advertised as “guilt-free.” Those seeking to compensate for a lapse undertake punitive measures like fasts, purges, or diets composed of different juices carefully sequenced throughout the day.

I had a different reaction to aging: I gradually came to realize that I was old enough to die, by which I am not suggesting that each of us bears an expiration date. There is of course no fixed age at which a person ceases to be worthy of further medical investment, whether aimed at prevention or cure. The military judges that a person is old enough to die—to put him or herself in the line of fire—at age 18. At the other end of life, many remain world leaders in their seventies or even older, without anyone questioning their need for lavish continuing testing and care. Zimbabwe’s former president, Robert Mugabe, recently turned 90, and has undergone multiple treatments for prostate cancer.

If we go by newspaper obituaries, however, we notice that there is an age at which death no longer requires much explanation. Although there is no general editorial rule on these matters, it is usually sufficient when the deceased is in their seventies or older for the obituary writer to invoke “natural causes.” It is sad when anyone dies, but no one can consider the death of a septuagenarian “tragic,” and there will be no demand for an investigation.

“In the health-conscious mind-set that has prevailed among the world’s affluent people for about four decades now, health is indistinguishable from virtue.”

Once I realized I was old enough to die, I decided that I was also old enough not to incur any more suffering, annoyance, or boredom in the pursuit of a longer life. I eat well, meaning I choose foods that taste good and that will stave off hunger for as long as possible, like protein, fiber, and fats. I exercise—not because it will make me live longer but because it feels good when I do. As for medical care: I will seek help for an urgent problem, but I am no longer interested in looking for problems that remain undetectable to me. Ideally, the determination of when one is old enough to die should be a personal decision, based on a judgment of the likely benefits, if any, of medical care and—just as important at a certain age—how we choose to spend the time that remains to us.

At the same time I had always questioned whatever procedures the health care providers recommended; in fact I am part of a generation of women who insisted on their right to raise questions without having the word “uncooperative,” or worse, written into their medical records. So when a few years ago my primary care physician told me that I needed a bone density scan, I of course asked him why: What could be done if the result was positive and my bones were found to be hollowed out by age? Fortunately, he replied, there was now a drug for that. I told him I was aware of the drug, both from its full-page magazine ads as well as from articles in the media questioning its safety and efficacy. Think of the alternative, he said, which might well be, say, a hip fracture, followed by a rapid descent to the nursing home.

So I grudgingly conceded that undergoing the test, which is noninvasive and covered by my insurance, might be preferable to immobility and institutionalization. The result was a diagnosis of “osteopenia,” or thinning of the bones, a condition that might have been alarming if I hadn’t found out that it is shared by nearly all women over the age of 35. Osteopenia is, in other words, not a disease but a normal feature of aging. A little further research, all into readily available sources, revealed that routine bone scanning had been heavily promoted and even subsidized by the drug’s manufacturer. Worse, the favored medication at the time of my diagnosis has turned out to cause some of the very problems it was supposed to prevent—bone degeneration and fractures. A cynic might conclude that preventive medicine exists to transform people into raw material for a profit-hungry medical-industrial complex.

My first major defection from the required screening regimen was precipitated by a mammogram. No one likes mammography, which amounts to a brute-force effort to render the breasts transparent. First, a breast is flattened between two plates, then it is bombarded with ionizing radiation, which is, incidentally, the only environmental factor known for sure to cause breast cancer. I’d been fairly dutiful about mammograms since having been treated for breast cancer at the turn of the millennium, and now, about 10 years later, the gynecologist’s office reported that I’d had a “bad mammogram.” I spent the next few anxious weeks undergoing further tests, in the midst of which I managed to earn a ticket for “distracted driving.” Naturally I was distracted—by the looming decision of whether I would undergo debilitating cancer treatments again, or just let the disease take its course this time.

It turned out, after I’d been through a sonogram and fought panic in a coffin-like MRI tube, that the “bad mammogram” was a false positive resulting from the highly sensitive new digital forms of imaging. That was my last mammogram. Lest this seem like a reckless decision, I was supported in it by a high-end big-city oncologist, who viewed all my medical images and said that there would be no need to see me again, which I interpreted as ever again.

After this, every medical or dental encounter seemed to end in a tussle. Dentists—and I have met a number of them in my moves around the country—always wanted a fresh set of X-rays, even if the only problem was a chip in the tip of a tooth. All I could think of was the X-ray machines every shoe store had offered in my youth, through which children were encouraged to peer at the bones of their feet while wiggling their toes. The fun ended in the 1970s, when these “fluoroscopes” were eventually banned as dangerous sources of radiation. So why should I routinely expose my mouth, which is much more cancer-prone than the feet, to high annual doses of roentgens? If there was some reason to suspect underlying structural problems, okay, but just to satisfy the dentist’s curiosity or meet some abstract “standard of care”—no.

In all these encounters, I was struck by the professionals’ dismissal of my subjective reports—usually along the lines of “I feel fine”—in favor of the occult findings of their equipment. One physician, unprompted by any obvious signs or symptoms, decided to measure my lung capacity with the new handheld instrument he’d acquired for this purpose. I breathed into it, as instructed, as hard as I could, but my breath did not register on his screen. He fiddled with the instrument, looking deeply perturbed, and told me I seemed to be suffering from a pulmonary obstruction. In my defense, I argued that I do at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day, not counting ordinary walking, but I was too polite to demonstrate that I was still capable of vigorous oral argument.

It was my dentist, oddly enough, who suggested, during an ordinary filling, that I be tested for sleep apnea. How a dentist got involved in what is normally the domain of ear, nose, and throat specialists, I do not know, but she recommended that the screening be done at a “sleep center,” where I would attempt to sleep while heavily wired to monitoring devices, after which I could buy the treatment from her: a terrifying skull-shaped mask that would supposedly prevent sleep apnea and definitely extinguish any last possibility of sexual activity. But when I protested that there is no evidence I suffer from this disorder—no symptoms or detectable signs—the dentist said that I just might not be aware of it, adding that it could kill me in my sleep. This, I told her, is a prospect I can live with.

 

“A cynic might conclude that preventive medicine exists to transform people into raw material for a profit-hungry medical-industrial complex.”

 

As soon as I reached the age of 50 physicians had begun to recommend—and in one case even plead—that I have a colonoscopy. As in the case of mammograms, the pressure to submit to a colonoscopy is hard to avoid. Celebrities promote them, comics snicker about them. During March, which is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, an eight-foot-high inflatable replica of a colon tours the country, allowing the anally curious to stroll through and inspect potentially cancerous polyps “from the inside.” But if mammography seems like a refined sort of sadism, colonoscopies mimic an actual sexual assault. First the patient is sedated—often with what is popularly known as the “date rape drug,” Versed—then a long flexible tube, bearing a camera on one end, is inserted into the rectum and all the way up through the colon. What repelled me even more than this kinky procedure was the day of fasting and laxatives that was supposed to precede it, in order to ensure that the little camera encounters something other than feces. I put this off from year to year, until I finally felt safe in the knowledge that since colon cancer is usually slow-growing, any cancerous polyps I contain are unlikely to flourish until I am already close to death from other causes.

Then my internist, the chief physician in a mid-sized group practice, sent out a letter announcing that he was suspending his ordinary practice in order to offer a new level of “concierge care” for those willing to cough up an extra $1,500 a year beyond what they already pay for insurance. The elite care would include 24-hour access to the doctor, leisurely visits, and, the letter promised, all kinds of tests and screenings in addition to the routine ones. This is when my decision crystallized: I made an appointment and told him face-to-face that, one, I was dismayed by his willingness to drop his less-than-affluent patients, who appeared to make up much of the waiting room population. And, two, I didn’t want more tests; I wanted a doctor who could protect me from unnecessary procedures. I would remain with the masses of ordinary, haphazardly screened patients.

Of course all this unnecessary screening and testing happens because doctors order it, but there is a growing rebellion within the medical profession. Over-diagnosis is beginning to be recognized as a public health problem, and is sometimes referred to as an “epidemic.” It is an appropriate subject for international medical conferences and evidence-laden books like Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health by H. Gilbert Welch and his Dartmouth colleagues Lisa Schwartz and Steve Woloshin. Even health columnist Jane Brody, long a cheerleader for standard preventive care, now recommends that we think twice before undergoing what were once routine screening procedures. Physician and blogger John M. Mandrola advises straightforwardly:

Rather than being fearful of not detecting disease, both patients and doctors should fear healthcare. The best way to avoid medical errors is to avoid medical care. The default should be: I am well. The way to stay that way is to keep making good choices—not to have my doctor look for problems.

With age, the cost/benefit analysis shifts. On the one hand, health care becomes more affordable—for Americans, anyway—at age 65, when a person is eligible for Medicare. Exhortations to undergo screenings and tests continue, with loved ones joining the chorus. But in my case, the appetite for medical interactions of any kind wanes with each passing week. Suppose that preventive care uncovered some condition that would require agonizing treatments or sacrifices on my part—disfiguring surgery, radiation, drastic lifestyle limitations. Maybe these measures would add years to my life, but it would be a painful and depleted life that they prolonged.

As it is now, preventive medicine often extends to the end of life: 75-year-olds are encouraged to undergo mammography; people already in the grip of one terminal disease may be subjected to screenings for others. At a medical meeting, someone reported that a 100-year-old woman had just had her first mammogram, causing the audience to break into a “loud cheer.”

One reason for the compulsive urge to test and screen and monitor is profit, and this is especially true in the United States, with its heavily private and often for-profit health system. How is a doctor—or hospital or drug company—to make money from essentially healthy patients? By subjecting them to tests and examinations that, in sufficient quantity, are bound to detect something wrong or at least worthy of follow-up. Gilbert and his coauthors offer a vivid analogy, borrowed from an expert in fractal geometry: “How many islands surround Britain’s coasts?” The answer of course depends on the resolution of the map you are using, as well as how you are defining an “island.” With high-resolution technologies like CT scans, the detection of tiny abnormalities is almost inevitable, leading to ever more tests, prescriptions, and doctor visits. And the tendency to over-test is amplified when the doctor who recommends the tests has a financial interest in the screening or imaging facility that he or she refers people to.

It’s not only a profit-hungry medical system that drives over-testing and over-diagnosis. Individual consumers, that is, former and potential patients, may demand the testing and even threaten a malpractice suit if they feel it is being withheld. In the last couple of decades, “patient advocacy” groups have sprung up to “brand” dozens of diseases and publicize the need for screening. Many have their own celebrity spokespersons—Katie Couric for colonoectal cancer, Rudy Giuliani for prostate cancer—and each sports its own distinctive colored ribbon—pink for breast cancer, purple for testicular cancer, black for melanoma, a “puzzle pattern” for autism, and so on—as well as special days or months for concentrated publicity and lobbying efforts. The goal of all this is generally “awareness,” meaning a willingness to undergo the appropriate screening, such as mammograms and PSA tests.

 

“The tendency to over-test is amplified when the doctor who recommends the tests has a financial interest in the screening or imaging facility that he or she refers people to.”

 

There are even sizable constituencies for discredited tests. When the US Preventive Services Task Force decided to withdraw its recommendation of routine mammograms for women under 50, even some feminist women’s health organizations, which I had expected to be more critical of conventional medical practices, spoke out in protest. A small band of women, identifying themselves as survivors of breast cancer, demonstrated on a highway outside the task force’s office, as if demanding that their breasts be squeezed. In 2008, the same task force gave PSA testing a grade of “D,” but advocates like Giuliani, who insisted that the test had saved his life, continued to press for it, as do most physicians.

Many physicians justify tests of dubious value by the “peace of mind” they supposedly confer— except of course on those who receive false positive results. Thyroid cancer is particularly vulnerable to over-diagnosis. With the introduction of more high-powered imaging techniques, doctors were able to detect many more tiny lumps in people’s necks and surgically remove them, whether surgery was warranted or not. An estimated 70 to 80 percent of thyroid cancer surgeries performed on US, French, and Italian women in the first decade of the 21st century are now judged to have been unnecessary. In South Korea, where doctors were especially conscientious about thyroid screening, the number rose to 90 percent (Men were also over-diagnosed, but in far lower numbers.) Patients pay a price for these surgeries, including a lifelong dependence on thyroid hormones, and since these are not always fully effective, the patient may be left chronically “depressed and sluggish.”

So far I can detect no stirrings of popular revolt against the regime of unnecessary and often harmful medical screening. Hardly anyone admits to personally rejecting tests, and one who did—science writer John Horgan in a Scientific American blog on why he will not undergo a colonoscopy—somewhat undercut his well-reasoned argument by describing himself as an “anti-testing nut.” Most people joke about the distastefulness of the recommended procedures, while gamely submitting to whatever is expected of them.

But there’s a significant rebellion brewing on another front. Increasingly, we read laments about the “medicalization of dying,” usually focused on a formerly frisky parent or grandparent who had made clear her request for a natural, nonmedical death, only to end up tethered by cables and tubes to an ICU bed. Physicians see this all the time—witty people silenced by ventilators, the fastidious rendered incontinent—and some are determined not to let the same thing happen to themselves. They may refuse care, knowing that it is more likely to lead to disability than health, like the orthopedist who upon receiving a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer immediately closed down his practice and went home to die in relative comfort and peace. A few physicians are more decisively proactive, and have themselves tattooed “NO CODE” or “DNR,” meaning “do not resuscitate.” They reject the same drastic end-of-life measures that they routinely inflict on their patients.

In giving up on preventive care, I’m just taking this line of thinking a step further: Not only do I reject the torment of a medicalized death, but I refuse to accept a medicalized life, and my determination only deepens with age. As the time that remains to me shrinks, each month and day becomes too precious to spend in windowless waiting rooms and under the cold scrutiny of machines. Being old enough to die is an achievement, not a defeat, and the freedom it brings is worth celebrating.

End of article...

 


HBO's "Alternate Endings" explores 6 the of the new ways to die in America.

This article/review is relatively short and quite interesting.
The documentary follows Dick Shannon, his wife and family, and 5 other families of people making preparations for their approaching deaths.

Do you know what you want your death to look like? Do you know what's possible? Care to?

 


"I'm Old Enough to Die"

This article is subtitled: "The Market for Wellness is more about Capitalism Than Prolonging Life"

The material comes from a book called Natural Causes, by Barbara Ehrenreich.  The article, itself, was written by Derek Beres. He's a fan of fat-shaming, though, so if you want to know more about him, you'll have to dig it out yourself. Won't be hard! :)

A summary of the book from her website says,

"Natural Causes examines the ways in which we obsess over death, our bodies, and our health. Both funny and caustic, Ehrenreich then tackles the seemingly unsolvable problem of how we might better prepare ourselves for the end—while still reveling in the lives that remain to us."

But the article is shorter! And makes some very valid points in my opinion.
Embedded in the article is an ad (or two) but further down is a video of an interview with Ehrenreich from the PBS News Hour. 
The video can also be found on YouTube here.  

Ehrenreich suggests the cultivation of an important quality to aid in this quest: humility.

"For all of our vaunted intelligence and 'complexity,' we are not the sole authors of our destinies or of anything else. You may exercise diligently, eat a medically fashionable diet, and still die of a sting from an irritated bee. You may be a slim, toned paragon of wellness, and still a macrophage within your body may decide to throw in its lot with an incipient tumor."

More from Derek:
"Ehrenreich does not criticize staying healthy. She discusses her own struggles and triumphs with gym culture; even still, she exercises regularly. Her problem is treating the human body as a clumsy burden to be overcome; equally, as an infinitely wise biological organism primed for optimization. Many of our cells — what "I" is composed of — have no interest in sustaining our lives. A number of them even bet on and actively instigate our destruction. "

 

 

 


The Lessons of Asymmetry

A TGB Reader Story.     (housekeeping note: this is 2 links; one to the TGB Home page, and
                                            one to the story specifically.)

Ronni Bennett's readers are invited to submit their own stories to her blog for publication.  This one is by Adele Frances.
This was the quote that began her story:

“There is little meaning in making a fuss. There is nothing else to do but say good-bye to the last body part and continue your life with what parts may be left.”

- Elderly Greenland native who lost two fingers to frostbite years ago. Smithsonian Magazine

You'll enjoy this a lot I think, for Adele's attitude as well as for her writing skill.
She's writing about losing a part of her body to surgery, and how that feels to her.  She is an inspiration to me.

And yes, you are invited to submit your own stories for this blog! Essays, poetry, blank verse, whatever...

 


Ashes to Ashes, Stardust to Stardust

"Delivering cremated remains to the stratosphere joins a new list of ways to memorialize the dead."

This is a light, slightly humorous, article about the new options to have your (or "your loved ones") cremains blasted into space.
Well, not really space; just 100,000 ft. up into the stratosphere. Sooner or later, you'll fall back to earth. ..in little rain drops or ice crystals according to the article.
Not much more than a Thousand Dollars.

It's also possible to go higher. A different company will take you higher, then blast your cremains (inside a capsule) up to 300,000ft. They don't tell you what THAT costs.
But, even that is not real space...even though Gene Roddenberry took that trip. He'll fall back in his capsule some day... I hope it's near a Space Port.

Some of this article is about trends in the funeral industry that are changing with our... what?  (our need to be "first on the block to.."?) ..aside is mine.

Elsewhere, you read this:
"People are becoming increasingly interested in how their physical remains, and the remains of their loved ones, will be handled.
They want something more personal and more personalized."

If you've not explored this subject, you might be surprised by some of the options available to you. Enjoy...


Write Your Way to Emotional Resilience

Want to Be Emotionally Resilient? Science says do this

From the article:
"Do you worry a lot? Sometimes over things you absolutely can't control, so that worrying about them serves no practical purpose?
Do you think you worry too much? Do you worry that all this worrying may not be good for you?"

This article is about writing your worries. Maybe not daily, with no real rules, and with no expectations... just write what is worrisome.
More from the article:
"That might seem absurdly simple, but it turns out to be extremely powerful as well. Keeping a "worry journal" is an element of cognitive behavior therapy, or CBT, which has long been known to help with a great many emotional disorders. Researchers at Pennsylvania State University, in State College decided to see whether worry journaling alone could help subjects improve their emotional balance."

The article is short and sweet. It goes on to list 4 steps and explains each.
Read about how this theory was tested, and the interesting results.
Will it work for you? Let me know... 


September 13, 2019 ~ reading what we wrote - newbies

In old business we continued the discussion on how to assimilate new members. We do agree that we would like to grow a bit more, but we also have taken note of the increasing level of intimacy that exists in the group as it is now. We think that a social event outside of a Salon meeting might be a good way to accomplish this purpose, by letting newbies and members meet and engage without compromising the privacy and intimacy of an actual meeting.
I confess, this whole business feels very awkward to me. I realize I'm the one who wants to "grow" us the most. And this doesn't feel right, yet.
Part of the reason I hesitate here is this:
I fear that if we try to "control" too much the voices we invite, we also limit the variety of Points of View that we could hear.
And perhaps, we also limit our opportunities for learning how better to express disagreement.
As women, especially, we know how it feels to go unheard.
I know that other voices could be disruptive, and I know women, traditionally, have not been great at effective confrontation. Do we want to stay this way? Are we fragile?
I feel this discussion will be ongoing for a bit.   And it is possible we need to decide and state our primary strategies/purpose; or to explore why we are so strongly committed to our privacy here.

We talked about possibilities for a social event, possibly a Holiday Party. Will our Social Coordinator please get on that?!  :D
This might or might not be a function to which we could invite significant others and potential new members.

Someone mentioned that Ruidoso (or the Downs) has an Escape Room. I found two possibles.
Land of Entrapment appears to be at the racetrack, though that is difficult to prove.  Cost is $25/person. That's a tad steep for an hour's entertainment, for me... I have rarely seen a less informative website.
But for lack of information, this one wins! Escape With Billy the Kid.  I did find a button that said "Located at Fox Cave", but most of the links are broken. I think this one is priced at $15, but I couldn't find the link a second time. 
On escape rooms, that's it for me. Happy to go, if... but someone else will have to plan it.  (Yeah, just being ornery!)

Ruidoso's Adventure Mountain has a web presence on Facebook. (at least I could find this one). Their page shows a lot of what they have.
And they are happy to show you around in person if you want. This is the place that has the nerf ball battle thing, and also a batting cage, a ropes course, and several other things including glow-in-the-dark Mini golf.
Several restaurants in town have meeting rooms, and the 'cave' downstairs at Grill Caliente might be available for a party.

Then we moved on to talk about our writings; who did; how it felt, etc.
We also added two more methods or approaches to the subject: 'worries' writing, and 'special' prompts.
One was from another writing group, a prompt called Where I'm From. In the examples I saw, and in the one I wrote, there was/is no reference to a physical location.  This is the link to my friend's FB post.
The other was a Worry Journal that has proven to be helpful in relieving stress and general anxiety.

Four of the six present today read things they had written. Each reading gave us a little better sense of each other.
I'll probably publish mine one day when I'm just a tad farther past being so dang proud of it!   Haha, she said wryly. 
And I would love to put up Delphi and First Snake, if you'll let me.  Pretty please...  :)

In winding-down conversation we talked about taking and/or giving offense. (I think someone said, "I don't mean to offend anyone, but...", and we took off from there.)
This gave us a chance to talk about our growing relationships, our intimacy, expectations, etc. We agreed that we have come to know enough about each other that we are certain that no one would intend offense. And we agreed that if anyone is discomfited in any way by a comment or presentation or whatever, that we feel safe enough to address that in the present tense in the meeting. We seem to agree that clarifying conversation can be tricky but is often essential.   (paraphrasing - comment if you heard it differently)

I told you that I was having trouble prepping a presentation on Trust because the research was helping me see that I am not presently very trustworthy.
Coming to accept that fact has been both painful and more than a little educational, in ways that don't need elaboration on this blog.
I do still think it will be a good topic to explore; I'm just not the one the facilitate that conversation. 

 


Memoir ~ an article by Kate H.

Writing MEMOIR

I don’t want to write memoir to defend myself. After 25 years I shouldn’t need to.

Like the saying goes Don’t explain; your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe it. 

But maybe I do need to. Not because I’m sorry or because I want to change minds or even because I need to convince myself.

I know to my core it was the most amazing life-giving “mistake” I ever made. 

But it did open Pandora’s box. And everybody knows that story. Or Eve and her apple, although what’s not good about curiosity and critical thinking? 

So maybe I don’t belong in those stories at all. Maybe what I need is to write a new story. No boxes or forbidden apples or Prince Charmings. 

Just my story. Actual mistakes and mixed motives and insensitivities and regrets that have nothing to do with boxes or mythical gardens. 

So give up thinking I have no bias. No mythology of my own. These are the only eyes I have to look back. I’ve no reason for second guessing.

But maybe for a second remembering. 


Morning Routines; Do you have one?

I just came across this article from Insight Timer, an app I use and recommend. The app is available from both Google Play and in Apple's App Store.

We have mentioned ritual or Practice or routines a time or two. This article explains some of the reasons that Morning Routines might be very useful and what is going on in our bodies when we first wake. Think cortisol and Circadian Rhythms.

I tend to be very inconsistent about my mornings. I blame it on the cat or on laziness or on procrastination...
At the very bottom, I think all of these have a small part, but mostly, it may be residual old habit energy that I let take over.
So happy to be a work in progress! 

How are you doing?


Can Digital Games Enhance Mobility and Social Interaction?

So it would seem. Check out Sophia's story.  (reprinted here; the linked version includes photos and links to a few other stories you may find interesting.)

"Over the first weeks of July 2016, a strange phenomenon started to unfold in many parts of the world. A mobile game went viral. Streets in Barcelona, Melbourne, Singapore and New York began to fill with hordes digital wayfaring as part of the augmented reality (AR) game, Pokémon Go.

The game popularised the digital overlay technique of AR, in which real-time wayfaring could be converged with digital play.

In its hey-day, Pokémon Go searches surpassed porn on the internet. Then, it became mundane media – and this is when it became really interesting.

Meet the 67-year-old nurse Sofia, who lives in Badalona in Spain. After losing her husband to cancer a decade ago, Sofia initially found it hard to fight the grief and depression. Her daughters and grandchildren helped her in this transition.

Sofia is especially close to her seven-year-old grandson, Diego. They do many activities together, constantly sharing intergenerational skills. It was Diego who first introduced Sofia to Pokémon Go.

As they wandered the streets of Badalona together, Diego would show her the digital overlays of Pokémon Go that reinvented Sofia’s everyday experiences of mundane spaces.

Diego taught Sofia how to flick the touch screen to capture Pokemon. And he taught Sofia digital wayfaring – that is, how the digital is entangled with the body’s movement.

Pokémon Go allowed Sofia to learn some of the multiple ways her familiar city could be reinvented. Eventually, Sofia opened her own Pokémon Go account.

She would sometimes find herself briskly walking the streets in search of Pokémon. Mundane trips to the market or shops became Pokémon Go adventures in which she would reinvent the routes to capture more Pokémon.

The city became a complex overlay of digital, material, environmental and social cartographies.

The game also made Sofia feel fit and socially engaged in her community. And she became an outstandingly super-cool grandmother in the eyes of her grandson, Diego.

The “old media” of Pokémon Go enriched Sofia’s life: it reinvented the city she has lived in for all her life; it allowed her playful ways to further develop her relationship with her grandson; and it afforded her new ways to connect with other generations.

But Sofia’s story is not an exception.

In fact, her story is one example of an increasingly common way “old” mundane technologies are being playfully deployed for digital health solutions, one that brings older generations closer to their urban communities.

Social workers recommend Pokémon Go in Badalona

Badalona is renowned for its innovative and integrated healthcare system, centralised through the city council.

There, social workers are recommending Pokémon Go to clients to boost two key dimensions of ageing well: exercise and social inclusion. Part of the game play involves cooperation, for example, to win in a raid, players need to organise to meet up and battle together.

Our yet-to-be-published research uses data from a meet-up bot we built on the messenger program Telegram, to help people organise Pokémon Go raid boss battles.

Over 6,000 battles were fought throughout 2018, with almost 29,000 individuals meeting and establishing social connections and relationships in Badalona.

What’s more, there is much to learn from the lived experiences of Sofia that requires us to change how we think about play and digital health. For instance, the haptic sensibility of the game (the perception of objects through the sense of touch) privileges motion awareness, so it’s more attuned to Sofia’s fading eye sight.

Badalona is a great example of how intergenerational play can redefine a city by allowing users to navigate through multiple senses – touch, sound and sight – that digital play stimulates.

Play can expose bias in a city

When we spoke to Sofia for our research, we were able to reflect on how games like Pokémon Go highlight the paradoxes of a city that’s datafied to an app.

While Pokémon Go encouraged physical exercise and social inclusion as part of its strategic game play, it also exposed how inherent social, cultural and economic biases in cities become embedded in every day movement.

For example, Pokémon Go’s game engine drew on algorithms of Badalona which had inherent biases in the form of redlining. In other words, peripheral neighbourhoods had fewer Poke stops.

This includes areas or zones of the city with a high concentration of socially excluded people, and the places that are physically further away from the centre of the city.

Play prioritises the human experience

There are many things we can learn from Badalona’s strategies for ageing well, which centres on lived experience. Rather than inventing new apps for the cartographies of the city, they playfully reinvent the mundane. We should look towards civic urban play for innovation.

Play is an interdisciplinary concept linking culturally specific ideas of creativity with expression. And it allows for different forms of social innovation across digital, material and social worlds.

Play can also teach us how to think about the intersection of technology and health in different ways that prioritise human experience.

And in terms of ageing societies, play might hold the key to developing human-centred approaches for the future."

 


NPR and Elderhood, a new book.

A Clearer Map For Aging: 'Elderhood' Shows How Geriatricians Help Seniors Thrive

Heard on Fresh Air (link to podcast of interview)
 
"Dr. Louise Aronson says the U.S. doesn't have nearly enough geriatricians — physicians devoted to the health and care of older people: "There may be maybe six or seven thousand geriatricians," she says. "Compare that to the membership of the pediatric society, which is about 70,000."

Aronson is a geriatrician and a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. She notes that older adults make up a much larger percentage of hospital stays than their pediatric counterparts. The result, she says, is that many geriatricians wind up focusing on "the oldest and the frailest" — rather than concentrating on healthy aging.

Aronson sees geriatrics as a specialty that should adapt and change with each patient. "My youngest patient has been 60 and my oldest 111, so we're really talking a half-century there," she says. "I need to be a different sort of doctor for people at different ages and phases of old age."

She writes about changing approaches to elder health care and end-of-life care in her new book, Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life.

Interview highlights

On how people's health needs become more complicated as they age

While old age itself is not a disease, it does increase vulnerability to disease. So it's the very rare person over age 60 ... and certainly over age 80, that doesn't tend to have several health conditions already. So when something new comes up, it's not only the new symptoms of potentially a new disease, but it's in the context of an older body of the other diseases, of the treatments for the other diseases.

If somebody comes in with symptoms and they're an older person, we do sometimes find that single unifying diagnosis, but that's actually the exception. If we're being careful, we more likely find something new and maybe a few other things. We add to a list [and], we end up with a larger list, not a smaller one, if we're really paying attention to everything going on in that person's life and with their health.

On how the immune system changes with age

Our immune system has multiple different layers of protection for us. And there are biological changes in all of those layers, and sometimes it's about the number of cells that are able to come to our defense, if we have an infection of some kind. Sometimes it's about literally the immune reaction. So we know, for example, that responses to vaccines tend to decline with age, and sometimes the immunity that people mount is less. It also tends to last less long. And that's just about the strength of the immune response, which changes in a variety of ways. But our immune system is part and parcel of every other organ system in our body, and so it increases our vulnerability as we get older across body systems.

On the importance of vaccines for older people

Older people ... are among the populations (also very young children) to be hospitalized or to die as a result of the flu. The flu vaccine, particularly in a good year, but even when the match isn't perfect in a given year, [protects] older people from getting that sick and from ending up in the hospital and from dying. ... That said, we have not optimized vaccines for older adults the way we have for other age groups. So if you look, for example, at the Centers for Disease Control's recommendations about vaccinations, you will see that there are, I believe, it's 17 categories for children, different substages of childhood for which they have different recommendations, and five stages for adulthood. But the people over age 65 are lumped in a single category. ... We're all different throughout our life spans, and we need to target our interventions to all of us, not just to certain segments of the population, namely children and adults, leaving elders out.

On how medications can change in how they affect the patient over time

Researchers have traditionally said, "Well, we're not going to include older people in our studies because their bodies are different and/or because they have other ailments that might interfere with their reaction to this medicine." But then they give the medicine to those same older people ... and so very frequently with a new medicine we will see all sorts of drug reactions that are not listed on the warnings. So message number one is just because it's not listed doesn't mean it's not the culprit. Another key point is really any medicine can do this. And it can do it even if the person has been on it a long time. ... We think of medicines as sort of fixed entities, but in fact what really matters is the interaction between the medication and the person. So even if the medication stays the same, the person may be changing.

On the importance of doing house calls in her work

What got me into medicine and what keeps me there is the people. And when you do a house call, you see the person in their environment, so they get to be a person first and a patient second, which I love. I also can see their living conditions, and more and more we're realizing and paying attention to how much these social factors really influence people's health and risk for good or bad outcomes.

Roberta Shorrock and Seth Kelley produced and edited the audio of this interview. Bridget Bentz, Molly Seavy-Nesper and Deborah Franklin adapted it for Shots.

This story was submitted to Itsa Village by Irma.
Coincidentally (if you believe in that stuff), Dr. Louise Aronson is mentioned in other links on this blog, in an article she wrote called Ageism in Medicine.


"The Pinnacle of Adaptation"

Excerpts:

"Keeping a human body upright and moving is a spectacular feat of coordination
and reaction under any circumstances. Doing so in the ninth decade of life
magnifies rather than diminishes the beauty of this achievement."    

"It is true that the second half of life includes experiences related to loss,
but it is also true that elderhood is not limited to these things. As we age,
we encounter an unexpected and highly significant rise in the power of adaptation.
The emergence of adaptability is perhaps the most important
and least acknowledged of the virtues of aging."

Dr. Bill Thomas is/was writing regular health columns for TGB. You can find out more about him here or here.

I think the full article is wonderful. It was his first post for TGB and certainly presents a (to me) delightful approach to aging.
He starts off by saying he thinks we're the healthiest group of people on the planet!  His explanation of how that could be makes complete sense to me.

I think you'll enjoy the article.


Time Goes By and Ronni Bennett

Time Goes By and Ronni Bennett   

For so many of the reasons that we started our Salon, you might want to consider reading this blog.
Time Goes By is subtitled "What it's really like to get old", and Ronni tells it like it is.

 I went there today because I wanted to let you know about her. What I found there caught me up short.
Ronnie is going thru her 2nd (and last) experience with cancer. She is terminal now and has been given "months or weeks".

I can't say enough good things about this blog, and by extension, its author. Her posts are pithy, well researched, honest, liberal, engaging, thoughtful.....
and comments left by her loyal readers are often as good as the posts.
Do yourself a favor...explore this site.


Death Cafe - a resource

Death Cafe is an organization started in England by Jon Underwood, a thoughtful man who has died.
They have a strong presence on Facebook, but I don't spend much time there anymore, so I am linking it here.

The website is designed to introduce you to Death Cafe, to teach one how to hold such meetings in their local areas, and to present articles and resources on this subject.


There are Many good articles linked on the site. Be sure to tell us of your favorites!


Lines on the Face: an Essay

Wrinkles

Lines on the face, tattoos of aging
Life is proved upon the body
Like needle-jabs from a blind machine

The older one gets, the more one is conscious of aging. We can barely remember childhood innocence and exuberance. We are surprised by the youthful vitality and unmarked face when we see earlier photos of ourselves. When we look in the mirror, we reluctantly acknowledge the aging mask. It seems that there is no escaping the marks of life.

Every experience that we have, everything that we do and think is registered upon us as surely as the steady embroidery of a tattoo artist. But to a large degree the pattern and picture that will emerge is up to us. If we go to a tattoo artist, it is we who select the picture. In life, it is we who select what we will become by the actions we perform. There is no reason to go through life thoughtlessly, to let accident shape us. That is like allowing oneself to be tattooed by a blind man. How can you help but turn out old and ugly?

Whether we emerge beautiful or ugly is our sole responsibility.


From 365 Tao, Daily Meditations by Deng Ming Dao

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