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Life Long Learnings

Life Long Learnings

There are many “Lifelongs” -- ranging from Lifelong Dental Care to a Lifelong Bowling Score. But I think those closest to most of our hearts are Lifelong Friends and Lifelong Learning. This blog is about what I discovered about Lifelong Learning, thanks to two Lifelong Friends.

Laura and Sandy, (married), asked me to register with them for a Monday evening class at the UCLA Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. I responded with an immediate “yes”, confident that anything Laura and Sandy were doing would be very cool and interesting. “What class are we taking?” I asked. I was hoping for something creative, like interior design for beginners or Yoga for the 60 plus body. But NO, they came back with “Astronomy”. Hmmm… 

Now, the entire depth and breadth of my knowledge of astronomy included: being able to spot the Big…or maybe it was the Little…Dipper;  knowing Mars was the red planet and Pluto had been downgraded to dwarf status; and of course, understanding that, no matter your age, it is critical to whisper “Twinkle Twinkle”… upon spotting the first star of the evening. Quite frankly, I felt that my astronomy education was complete.

My friends, who were most eager for me to join them, went on the explain that Osher was for older adults who wanted to “dabble” in a subject. There would be no tests or homework.

“Ok, I’m in.” I just couldn’t resist spending time with them, and what the heck, I figured I might even meet some “interesting” men.

Our instructor was a dynamic, flamboyant, renowned astronomer, who pinned up her hair with chopstick-shaped pins from which dangled charms of the heavenly bodies.  She began by asking the 25 of us to introduce ourselves and say why we were in the class. Great, a chance to check out the crop! 

As the student introductions proceeded, I quickly realized that I was in over my head. A dozen or so were repeat students back for more. Some had even made their own telescopes. There were retired science professors. And one man had even trained to be an astronaut in his youth. He hadn’t made the cut and had become a police officer. Now in his retirement, he had time to  indulge his lifelong passion for all things space.

Whoa! These people actually knew something.

When it was my turn, I sheepishly said my name and something about enjoying star gazing with my family as a child. The instructor politely said, “Thank you, next.” Ugh!  There went my chance of impressing any of the male students. Even worse, I was in for a long 10 weeks.

As the class continued that night, I kept falling asleep. No matter how much I resisted, pinched myself, or sipped water, my head continued to bob up and down.

On the ride home Laura, who is one of the kindest people I know, suggested that, given I get up early to go to work, maybe the class went a little too late into the evening for me. She informed me that I could get a refund for my tuition after the first class if I didn’t want to continue.  I quietly responded, “Let me think about it.”

Inside I was screaming, “I AM NOT A QUITTER.” I knew I hadn’t been dozing off due to tiredness. What had put me to sleep was the fact that the conversation was so foreign. I could not wrap my head around what our teacher was talking about. I was lost in space.

When I got home, my attitude of stay strong and never quit set in. I jumped on Amazon and ordered “Astronomy for Dummies” rush delivery. I called Laura and told her I would continue the class. That week I spent hours in my favorite neighborhood restaurant every afternoon studying my Dummies book.

I arrived at class #2 hoping that I had armed myself with enough knowledge to keep my eyes open. Eureka! I not only stayed awake, I was familiar with some of the references and EVEN LEARNED SOMETHING.

By the end of the 10 weeks, I had not struck up a relationship with a man. However, I could talk about “Black Holes” at a cocktail party.

But the two biggest lessons I had learned were (1) it is never too late to take on learning something new, even something way outside your comfort zone, and most importantly, (2) you might even fall in love with your subject matter.

Here are some of the best tools I have discovered for us Lifelong Learners when  jumping into   the unknown:  My favorite and reliable “Dummy Books”, One Day University, and Khan Academy. If you haven’t already, check them out.

 

“Once you stop learning you start dying."

Albert Einstein

 

Candace Shivers is a founder/principal of the Love of Aging movement, along with her good friends and colleagues, Maureen Charles and Liz Dietz.

At the age of 65, following the death of her husband, Candace reinvented herself, launching her current career in the field of aging. She is a champion for older adults living a healthy and vibrant lifestyle and a leader, educator, and expert on the impact of attitude on the quality of life for older adults. Candace currently serves as a Special Projects Manager for Wise & Healthy Aging non-profit providing innovative programming for older adults.

A renowned public speaker, she spent 36 years training people from around the globe in effective communication, leadership, and public speaking – talents she brings to the Love of Aging movement.

Candace is proud to be from Hope, Arkansas, Home of the World’s Largest Watermelon.

 

Global Celebration of Aging!

Hello! I’ve got exciting news about August 21st.

I’m betting if I asked most of you what is special about August 21st, with the exception of those who have a birthday or anniversary, you would respond, “I dunno.”

Well, congratulations, you’re with billions of people around the planet who haven’t got a clue. And I am out to change that, to put August 21st  in the spotlight. 

August 21st is World Senior Citizen Day!

Now I happen to travel past an iconic doughnut shop on my route to work, and on June 5th, National Doughnut Day, they’re lined up around the block because EVERYBODY seems to know it is National Doughnut Day.

But World Senior Citizen Day–who’s  ever heard of i that? Well, we’re going to change that and create an uproar around World Senior Citizen Day.

If you look it up on Wikipedia, the point of the day is to raise awareness of the challenges faced by older adults, including diminishing health and elder abuse. And amen to that. We bring out our the trumpets to get everyone’s attention on those issues.

However, there is little focus on the kinds of things we hear from members of the movement daily about their vitality, sense of accomplishment, and love of aging.

I am inviting you to join us on August 21st at 2pm Pacific Standard Time for the world’s first Global Celebration of Aging. For 90 minutes, we are going to celebrate, have a musical performance, give out awards, hear from people around the globe, share what we love about aging, and Zoom dance.

And the best part is for the first time since we have created this community, we will come together via Zoom.

Love Of Aging is hosting this event in collaboration with WISE & Healthy Aging, a Santa Monica, CA, based nonprofit whose purpose is to advance the dignity and independence of older adults.

You can register by clicking here. The registration page will say “Oasis Lifelong Adventure”.

When you register, you will be asked to make a $5 tax deductible donation to WISE & Healthy Aging to help them fulfill on their purpose.

The night before the event, you will receive a Zoom link from WISE & Healthy Aging via email. Click on that link to access the event from your computer, smart phone, or tablet.

You are welcome to invite people of all ages to join us; after all, everyone is aging. However, you are the stars of the show. 

See you at the world’s first Global Celebration of Aging!

 

Candace Shivers is a founder/principal of the Love of Aging movement, along with her good friends and colleagues, Maureen Charles and Liz Dietz.

At the age of 65, following the death of her husband, Candace reinvented herself, launching her current career in the field of aging. She is a champion for older adults living a healthy and vibrant lifestyle and a leader, educator, and expert on the impact of attitude on the quality of life for older adults. Candace currently serves as a Special Projects Manager for Wise & Healthy Aging non-profit providing innovative programming for older adults.

A renowned public speaker, she spent 36 years training people from around the globe in effective communication, leadership, and public speaking – talents she brings to the Love of Aging movement.

Candace is proud to be from Hope, Arkansas, Home of the World’s Largest Watermelon.

The 5-Minute Journal

A Happier You in 5 Minutes a Day! The simplest, most effective thing you can do every day to be happier

For at least a decade I have wanted to keep a journal, and I start and stop journaling at least a few times each year. Each new resolution to journal begins with a trip to my favorite stationery store or to Amazon to purchase the latest "must have" beautiful blank book. After many half-written journals, much money spent, and most damaging of all, a stream of broken promises to myself, someone introduced me to The 5-Minute Journal created by Alex Iknonn and A. J. Ramdas.

At last, success! I found a journal that works for people like me. Not only have I stopped my wasteful pattern of collecting half-filled-out journals, but I have a daily and nightly journaling habit that I actually stick to.

I love the look and feel of the journal, and more importantly, I use it. The 5-Minute Journal launches me into the new day with a daily inspirational quote, weekly challenges, and 3 simple prompts. The morning practice begins with "I am grateful for," "What would make today great," and a daily affirmation: "I am..." After 5 minutes of writing rapid-fire bullet points, I have created a positive, inspirational intention the leads to a great day.

In the evening, I fill in bullet points for "Amazing things that happened today..." and "How could I have made today even better?" After answering the nightly prompts, I put my head on the pillow having taken the responsibility for the good that happened in my day and for where I can improve.

If you have been wanting to start a journaling practice, but have never quite gotten off the ground, try the 5-Minute Journal.

4 REVERSIBLE Symptoms of the Dreaded "Old Person's Disease"

candace BollywoodI have prided myself and promoted to anyone who would listen that I am YOLD (young/old). To celebrate my 70th birthday, I ran my first half marathon. At 71, I took Bollywood Dance classes. I have traveled the globe, and last year at the tender age of 72, while in Tibet, I hiked in the Himalayas. (Before you get too impressed, a van took us up to the hiking spot. “The hike” was more like an hour’s walk before reboarding the van. But it was the damn Himalayas, and people could barely breathe.)

A few months later, as I was turning 73, without warning I noticed the first symptom of old person's disease had snuck up on me. I was in the act of standing up after having been seated for an hour, when I caught myself making that sound that the elderly make when standing or sitting down....Ahhhhh, like an exhale. Not the good Ahhhh as in AWESOME.  This was the creepy ahhh of something taking too much effort.

I wasn't about to tell anyone, but I started to have dark thoughts....

Perhaps I was now “on the offramp” – that inevitable gradual decline into morbidity.

Then, WHAM! I received a sign when I stumbled across this quote:

"Old age is the only disease you can catch by imitating its symptoms."

– Mario E. Martinez, Psy. D.

The sun began to shine, birds sang, and my spirit soared. I put myself in reverse and backed right up that offramp. And I vowed to keep a keen and wary eye out for any sign that I might be falling prey to imitating any of the dreaded symptoms. 

What I want to share with you is what I have learned in my brief journey in and out of the dreaded “old persons disease”. Not only have I identified the symptoms, but I have found a cure for each.

4 COMMON REVERSIBLE SYMPTOMS AND THEIR CURE

Symptom #1: Slowed walking and reduced gait.

This is an indicator that you fear you are becoming fragile, losing confidence, and concerned about your sense of balance.

Is it reversible? A study that was done with people from 60 to 90 years old to determine their “swing time”–the time the foot is off the ground when a person is walking. Swing time s realyed to balance and can indicate if someone is becoming frail. The participants were asked to walk so their swing time could be measured as a baseline. Then the subjects were divided into two groups and asked to play a simple computer game.  Unknown to the participants, the game they were playing contained subliminal messages. The first group received positive messages, such as “wise," “astute," and “accomplished."  And the second group received negative subliminal messages such as “senile," “dependent,” and “diseased." After playing the game, the participants were asked to walk again. The group that received negative messages lost swing time and started walking as if they were actually senile, dependent, and diseased. However, the group that received positive messages increased their swing time. This transformation seems to be solely due to their unconscious thoughts. For both groups, sense of self had an immediate impact on bodily function.

Cure #1: Strut your stuff and pick it up!

When walking down the street, the game I play is to spot someone much younger about 10 feet ahead of me, pick up my speed, and pass them. You will be surprised at how fast you can move when there is competition involved. When I pass them, I smile and say to myself, “Eat my dust!”

Symptom #2: Letting younger people help you when you can do it yourself.

I found myself saying “yes” to offers to take people’s seat or to carry something for me. Wasn’t it my time to cruise through life and let others take care of me?

Studies were done on the impact of personal responsibility on the health of residents in a nursing home. One group of residents was told that they could arrange the furniture in their rooms however they wanted, pick which nights to attend a movie, and select plants to keep and care for. A second group of residents, was told that the staff “want to do all we can to help you”. They had their furniture arranged for them, were told which nights to attend movies, and were given a house plant cared for by a nurse. After three weeks, almost all residents in the first group experienced significant improvement in physical and mental well-being; whereas, most participants in the second group declined or stayed the same.

Cure #2:  Don’t let the sweat dry!

Keep active. Stagnation kills. Just say, “No, thank you.” If you can do it, do it.  For bonus points go the extra step and help others. Open doors, give them your seat, and if you are feeling bold, carry their package.

Symptom #3: Not having a reason to jump out of bed each morning

The Japanese call this having an ikigai (pronounced ick-ee-guy): a direction or purpose in life that makes your life worthwhile and towards which you take actions that result in satisfaction and a sense of meaning. Science suggests that beyond just feeling useful, a key need for successful aging is to feel that you have played your part in leaving the world better than you found it.

Gerontologists report that many of the ills associated with aging have been worsened—or even created—by the lack of meaning and purpose in people’s lives. Many older people suffer from psychological pain, far deeper than the physical, as a result of not having a reason to get up in the morning

Cure #3: Get an Ikigai! 

To discover your purpose, you must first find what you love, what the world needs, and what you are good at. Then, find the medium through which you can express that passion. You might want to make art, spend time with children, or volunteer in your community. (See Become a Volunteer by Ed Lopez.)

Symptom #4: “I am too old for that."

From your mouth to God's ears. You’re in real trouble when you (and God) start believing this.

A famous longitudinal study on aging and retirement found that people with a positive attitude toward aging live an average of 7.5 years longer than people who don’t. In fact, people’s perception of aging had a greater effect, positive or negative, on healthy longevity than did lowering cholesterol or blood pressure (which according to the study, increased longevity by 4 years). Perception even had more of an effect than non-smoking, which adds 3 years to your life.

Cure #4: STOP SAYING THAT! 

Put some ridiculously youthful goals on your bucket list. And begin saying, thinking, and being that this leg of the journey is an opportunity for a fresh start to being the person you have always wanted to be.

I am confident you’ve got the point by now. However, I would like to leave you with this final thought: Playing the game of being forever young is a sucker’s game. You are not going to win. Playing the game of being YOLD (Young Old), vital, engaged, active, and having a great attitude toward aging is a game worth playing. 


References:
Ohio Longitudinal Study on Aging and Retirement, 1975-1995 
Nun Study - School Sisters of Notre Dame
Giving Seniors a Subconscious Boost

Candace Shivers is a founder/principal of the Love of Aging movement, along with her good friends and colleagues, Maureen Charles and Liz Dietz.

At the age of 65, following the death of her husband, Candace reinvented herself, launching her current career in the field of aging. She is a champion for older adults living a healthy and vibrant lifestyle and a leader, educator, and expert on the impact of attitude on the quality of life for older adults. Candace currently serves as a Special Projects Manager for Wise & Healthy Aging non-profit providing innovative programming for older adults.

A renowned public speaker, she spent 36 years training people from around the globe in effective communication, leadership, and public speaking – talents she brings to the Love of Aging movement.

Candace is proud to be from Hope, Arkansas, Home of the World’s Largest Watermelon.

 

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