Gifts of age – an outstanding book

This fascinating collection of portraits and essays will make a great gift for your special women of any age

I’m reading an informative, inspirational book, and wanted to share it with you.  GIFTS OF AGE, originally published in 1983, is a treasury of insights and thoughts from 32 intelligent, successful women. They share their experience with love, family, success, and life in general.

In addition to these wonderful insights, Pamela Valois’ photos add texture and interest.

Julia Child’s segment is fascinating.  Newly intrigued by Julia after seeing Meryl Streep’s excellent performance in Julie and Julia, I was interested to read about her.  She writes of her wonderful marriage, and discusses how much she enjoyed working with all ages of people.  She spoke fondly of her marriage, and her husband, Paul.

Julia, who lived to be two days shy of 92, shared her “recipe” for happiness:  “A passionate interest in what you do is the secret of enjoying life, perhaps the secret of long life, whether it is helping old people or children or making cheese or growing earthworms.”

GIFTS OF AGE would make a lovely Christmas present for that special woman (of any age) in your life.

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Halloween – craft ideas and history

Halloween creates marvelous opportunities for craft projects with children, grandchildren

Halloween creates marvelous opportunities for craft projects with children, grandchildren

It’s snowing this morning. Under a grey sky, the snow coats the bright colors of autumn like white icing.  I’m safe and warm inside, though, sipping my coffee, enjoying my Halloween display.

It’s a collection of memories that pleasantly “haunt” me.  I wore the witch’s hat many years ago when I greeted the trick-or-treaters. There are four mini-pumpkins in the display, representing my husband, me and our two daughters.

Those little floating creatures are memorabilia from my Girl Scout troop’s last camping trip. I had been a Girl Scout leader for eight years for my two daughters.  My older daughter had left years before, and the girls from my younger daughter’s troop had reached middle school, thrilled to enter that new chapter of their lives and not so thrilled to continue with scouting. The years since have passed as quickly as this storm front.

Inexpensive materials and a small time investment produce fun and warm memories for Halloween

Inexpensive materials and a small time investment produce fun and warm memories for Halloween

But these little floaters remain, and they can be a fun project idea for you and your little ghouls for this Halloween.  Using inexpensive supplies, each troop made a Halloween-related item to give to other troops.  Our troop made the little ghosts.  So simple – just cut a piece of white fabric (I sew, so I always have a stash), and drape it over a lollipop, tie it with a twistie or orange ribbon, and use a Sharpie to draw eyes and mouth.  These look so cute when tied on the naked branches of a small deciduous tree.

Note the  “ghost” puzzle pieces, very easy and clever.  Just paint puzzle pieces and draw a scary face on it.  The bigger the puzzle piece the better for small hands.

We are far from the ancient Celtic celebration of Samhain (pronounced sow-in) and the Druid celebrations of  “All Hallow’s Eve”(Hallow Evening, Hallow Even, Hallow E’en, Halloween).

New traditions have evolved– seductive costumes in addition to frightening ones, trick or treating for “children” of all ages, and elaborate haunted houses.  It’s a riot of creativity that inspires me, and several billion more people.

Have fun with your little ghosts and goblins, and have a safe and Happy Halloween!

To learn more click here – Celtic Samhain celebration All Hallow’s Eve

Have Halloween craft ideas to share?  Please do!  We’d love to see them!

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Gadget talk – Swiss Army traveling tool

A blog entry about gadgets caught my eye today, one that offered such novel ideas as a money and credit card “safe” in a flip-flop, and a brow-raising product, a pair of men’s briefs, complete with skid marks, designed to make even a thief think twice before touching it.

A cumbersome Swiss-Army-type tool was featured–hey, it only weighs 2 lbs 11 oz, and features 85 tools.  And it’s “only” $1200!

Hand Key-per, an 8-way Swiss Army travel gadget that opens bags, envelopes, medicine jars, pop-top cans, aspirin bottles and turns keys and features a magnet, key ring and emery board

Hand Key-per, an 8-way Swiss Army travel gadget that opens bags, envelopes, medicine jars, pop-top cans, aspirin bottles and turns keys and features a magnet, key ring and emery board

If your budget falls more in the line of the less-than-ten-dollars category, check out the more practical Hand Key-per traveling opener. It has eight helpful  functions — and it weighs just 2.2 ounces.  You can learn more about it by clicking here.

And if you’d like to see the flip-flop or skid-mark “safes” or 24 other wild gadgets, check out Mike Richard’s travel gadget column at ttp://tinyurl.com/yg3cfn2

Don’t buy into the negatives-aging myths

We can break old barriers and accomplish new goals ... at any age

We can break old barriers and accomplish new goals ... at any age

“It beats the alternative,” George Burns said at turning ninety.  Still, author Gene D. Cohen in The Creative Age says it’s hard to get past the grim generalities and myths about aging.

“Over the hill” and “It’s all downhill from here” are sinister words that echo in our brains as we celebrate each birthday after fifty.  Plummeting sex drive, health, and memory, dark, neglected nursing home rooms.  Ugh.  Should we really unquestionably accept all this?

No, Cohen says, and presents examples of people achieving great things in their later years.  Madeline Albright, at age sixty becoming the first female Secretary of State.  Dr. C. Everett Koop, surgeon general from age sixty-five to age seventy-three.  Boris Pasternak who wrote his first novel, Dr. Zhivago, at sixty-six.  Susan B. Anthony, internationally active into her eighties.

Cohen doesn’t stop with celebrities.  He cites regular people he grew to know from his experiences with the National Institute of Health–Robert, who left his law career in his early seventies and turned to documentary photography, completing a thrilling helicopter assignment at age eighty-seven over Alaskan wilderness.  William Edmonson, who lost his job as janitor in his mid-sixties and turned to sculpting, later becoming the first African American to have a one-person show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.  Charlotte, a retired “shrinking violet” secretary who went on to enjoy community theater, acting and singing publicly in her seventies.

While health complications are a reality, so too is the reality of the creative spirit.  Cohen points out that “Dreams, desires, ambition, determination, wisdom and compassion are also among the many effects of aging.”

Next: The Right Stuff

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Better living through creativity

Michelangelo was appointed architect of St. Peters in Rome -- at age seventy-two.  Social creativity blossoms with age, also.

Michelangelo was appointed architect of St. Peters in Rome -- at age seventy-two. Social creativity blossoms with age, also.

It’s more than artsy-crafty

In The Creative Age, author Gene D. Cohen cites the benefits of enhanced creativity. He compares the benefits of tapping our creativity to that of exercising to improve our muscle tone.

Nurturing our creativity can provide these benefits:

* Stronger morale.  “Creativity makes us more emotionally resilient and better able to cope with life’s adversity and losses.”

* Improved physical health.  Expressing our creativity can foster a positive outlook and sense of well-being, which in turn can strengthen our immune system and health.

* Enriches relationships.  If we are more optimistic about aging, we can more comfortably discuss it with our children. A more open, positive outlook on aging can encourage our children and grandchildren to also see more of the opportunities and promises of aging and less of the penalties of aging. This positive outlook encourages more open communication and trust across the generations.

* Provide a legacy.  I admire Cohen’s vision of being a role model for our families, improving individual thinking and social policies about aging.  We don’t need t win Nobel Prizes to make a positive impact on our family and through them, on the world.

UPDATE:  Dr. Cohen is presenting a fall webinar series this afternoon. Learn more at http://www.creativeaging.org

Stop by tomorrow when I’ll be reviewing the myths of aging

Over the hill, or suddenly creative?

Dr. Cohen's book dispels aging myths and shows us the more promising aspects of aging

Dr. Cohen's book dispels aging myths and shows us the more promising aspects of aging

Believing as I do that life can become richer with age, I was delighted to discover a book the celebrates the strengths of aging.  Tucked away on the value shelf at the bookstore, it has proven to be a real treasure.  Look for highlights of this book in the coming days, and if you wish to devour it whole, it’s titled The Creative Age, and it’s written by Gene D. Cohen, MD, PhD.

Cohen cites George Bernard Shaw in his first chapter, noting that Shaw wrote Back to Methuselah when he was sixty-six, and was awarded the Nobel Price in Literature in 1925 — at the age of sixty-nine.  Shaw wrote his entire lifetime, and was writing a comedy when he died at the age of ninety-four.

The creative spirit, Cohen says, has the power to change our lives at every age.

This book inspired me to focus on topics about our creative age.

Next up tomorrow:  Not just artsy-crafty – how to live better through creativity

Reject “old age” messages, explore new roads

Handsome, regal Rhett Butler Carey, and old dog who learned many new tricks

Handsome, regal Rhett Butler Carey, an old dog who learned many new tricks

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
I’m having a senior moment.
He’s ready for the rocking chair.

I recall writing an article for Network Magazine in which I visited belittling expressions about women. Terms like babe, chick, hen (and the more crass references we won’t mention here but all of us know) tend to dismiss women, to undermine their intelligence and capabilities.

In fairness, there are similar terms for men: hunk, bull, ox, mule, and so on.

Many such limiting labels have been placed on aging, as well. Old dog, bats-in-the-belfry, put him out to pasture, these and many more expressions leave lingering impressions on our minds, leading us to believe, as we approach and pass retirement age, that the best of our lives lies behind us.

Is that all there is?  Should we now rock our way to our final day?

Not me.  If aging is so devastating, why do we have a Supreme Court peopled with judges over seventy? The average age for a President to take office is 54.8 years old. The median age is 55. Eight men became President in their 40’s, 24 in their 50’s, and 10 in their 60’s.

There are countless examples of people achieving their best life works–in established or new fields of venture–in their seventies and eighties.

Why, then, do such generalities about fading proliferate?

It reminds me of the “dumb blonde” syndrome. There are many blonde-haired women who are bright and successful, but that’s not entertaining.  How much more fun it is to point at the ditzy one and make jokes.  So, humor at the expense of the aging is one answer.

Another reason may be fear. One witnesses the ravages of age in some–the decline in mobility, continence, health, memory–and releases the anxiety through comedy.

The biggest reason, though, may be one of being informed and aware of the whole picture.

While it’s true that age brings health challenges, it’s also true that quality of life can continue if we:
* keep an open mind
* accept adaptive methods that can neutralize some of life’s challenges
* point to one positive trait of aging for every negative we hear
* acknowledge both physical decline and the increased creativity that comes with age
* focus on an individual who overcomes aging challenges and shines in spite of them

There are others, but I have not yet enjoyed my second cup of coffee.
Maybe you’ll add some for us.  I would enjoy hearing from you.