We Do Our Best With What We Know

We do the best

The above photo was a recent Facebook post from Sister Hugs. I shared it because I’m fond of saying something similar. “We do our best with what we know at the time.”

Think about something important that you originally thought strongly about, but now think totally differently about it because NEW information influenced you to change your view.

I’ll give you a for-instance. When my babies were infants in 1983 and 1986, our pediatrician advised us to vary the sleeping positions from back to side to belly. We were told that it was better for babies to experience various sleep positions. Their cribs had bumper pads and they slept covered with a blanket. And they slept in their own rooms.

In 1992, after research around the world showed increased SIDS deaths from stomach sleeping, the official US recommendation came about that babies be placed ONLY on their backs while sleeping.

Jump to 2021. Not only should babies sleep on their backs, but also nothing else goes in the bumper-pad-free crib with the baby. Room-sharing (but not bed-sharing) is also strongly recommended for the baby’s safety. Firm bedding, not soft, is safest for the baby.

So all of the best advice today runs contrary to how I mothered my babies. Was I a bad mother? Unfit? Negligent? No. I did my best with what I knew at the time.

When I see people fighting about getting vaccinations and mask-wearing, I think about the premise of changing our minds because of new information. Some people believe Dr. Fauci waffled on the subject of mask-wearing. Do you know what actually happened? He did the best with what he knew at the time.

In the early days, no one knew just how fast the virus would spread. He was concerned that people would buy masks (like they later bought toilet paper) and hoard them so that the medical providers who had the primary need for them would go without.

And according to a fact check, Dr. Fauci explained that originally, “We were not aware that 40% to 45% of people were asymptomatic, nor were we aware that a substantial proportion of people who get infected get infected from people who are without symptoms. That makes it overwhelmingly important for everyone to wear a mask.”

Per BusinessInsider.com, Dr. Fauci is quoted as saying, “I don’t regret anything I said then because, in the context of the time in which I said it, it was correct. We were told in our task force meetings that we have a serious problem with the lack of PPEs.”

New information, new decisions. “We do our best with what we know at the time.”

Be kind to yourself and be kind to others as we make our way through this ever-changing world.


Changing advice on how babies sleep

NIH dateline of recommended sleeping positions


Putting Stuff Away

putting stuff away

I can’t stand not being able to find stuff. Since I consider myself to be a highly organized individual, it’s an affront to my mental well-being to be unable to locate something.

Case in point: A couple weeks ago my husband asked, “Where is the soil analysis the Co-Op did a month ago?” I knew what he was referring to and what it looked like. I recalled that I had intended to file the papers in the “landscaping” folder because that seemed to be a likely home.

It wasn’t there. Nor was it in the “to be filed” stack or the 2021 paperwork box. I called the Co-Op, and (with exemplary customer service) they scanned and emailed me another copy within minutes. So problem solved. But still, I was upset with myself for misplacing the test results.

Intending to write this post on how to improve organizational skills, I was surprised to find that a search of “best organizational skills” first brought up a slew of work-related and resume-related answers.

The employment listing company Indeed says that: “Organizational skills are some of the most important proficiencies you can have as an employee. Being organized will allow you to meet deadlines, minimize stress, and carry out your duties more efficiently.”

But when it comes to personal organizational skills, I’m willing to bet that most of my readers have heard of tidying expert Marie Kondo. Her premise is that we’ll be happier in a tidy, uncluttered, simplified home and life. One of her oft-repeated phrases is to keep an item ONLY if it sparks joy.

Just looking at her website has a calming effect on me.

I don’t recall where I read it, but I believe it: Clutter is the enemy of a peaceful home. And, as it turns out, it’s also the enemy of good mental health!

An article in Psychology Today cites studies that show clutter at home and the workplace can cause us to be less efficient in visual processing and thinking as well as spur a deterioration in good mental health.

Clutter and disorganization can spark a sense of uneasiness in me. And it can happen even when I’m watching something. I recall the (now canceled after nine seasons) tv sitcom The Middle about the Hecks, a middle-class family in Indiana. I loved the show, but their cluttered house gave me anxiety. Seriously.

And even watching a one-man bell ringing performance of the Lord’s Prayer (wow, that’s a mouthful, right?!) made me nervous because the guy didn’t systematically put the bells down in the same spot where he picked them up! I found I could enjoy it more if I just listened and didn’t watch.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go and tidy up.


Marie Kondo

Trailer for The Middle where you can see snatches of their home

The Lord’s Prayer in bells on Facebook

or another way to watch the bells if you’re not on Facebook

Psychology Today article on clutter disrupting mental health

Put A Face On It, Will You?

Put a face on it

Jay Meadows is a public researcher who investigates health behaviors. He’s been studying pandemic fatigue which has settled in all over the world. Pandemic fatigue, described as our general exhaustion and impatience with the rules imposed to stem the spread, is now a contributor to the growing number of cases of COVID-19. People are demoralized about not having a “normal” life; they want to resume activities and enjoy socializing. And so they begin loosening up.

Meadows says there are two predictors of human behaviors regarding health issues that illustrate why people are now disregarding the important safety steps we took earlier in the year to prevent the spread.

  • Perceived susceptibility. In other words, just HOW likely am I, personally, really at risk to catch COVID? Magical thinking might lead us to rationalize, “Hey, it’s been nearly nine months and I’m still fine so maybe I have some type of natural immunity.” Or “There aren’t a lot of cases in my area, so I’m safe.”
  • Perceived severity. We ask ourselves, “Even if I do get it, will it be all that bad?” We look at President Trump’s case and think, “Heck ya, I can do that.” We hear anecdotal stories of people who caught the virus and recovered quickly. Even one of my readers (who is also a friend) and her husband were diagnosed and had very mild cases. My friend shared that had they not both tested positive, they would have assumed they’d had just some type of minor illness.

I’m going to add a third predictor: Ineffectiveness of our brains to process numbers well. Every day we are bombarded with new statistics. Consider these true, up to the minute data:

  • There have been nearly eleven million cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in the United States since March 1, 2020.
  • Nearly a quarter-million Americans have died of the virus.
  • Approximately 3% of cases diagnosed today will prove fatal.
  • New cases in the US have surpassed 181,000 per day.
  • In the past week in America, daily reported deaths from COVID rose over 8%.

Statistics can be mind-numbing. Our brains get overwhelmed with too many and we tune it out. What does it all mean anyhow? So we get lazy with our precautions and start whining about how uncomfortable masks are.

The New York Times has helped me keep my focus on the pandemic real and personal with their series called Those We’ve Lost. It is online and is updated every day. Here’s the explanation the NYT provides on their page: “The coronavirus pandemic has taken an incalculable death toll. This series is designed to put names and faces to the numbers.”

The COVID death stories that major news outlets cover are typically about celebrities or mildly famous people. While those folks are included in the Times’ series, ordinary, everyday type of people have their stories told in beautiful obituaries.

There’s the story of Rebecca Cryer, a Tribal judge and a survivor of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. The obituary of Rev. John Vakulskas tells us of his decades-long ministry to carnival workers. Domenic Parisi was the barber who cut President Nixon’s hair. The stories include people who are described as a Sinatra fan, a prankster, a dinner party enthusiast, a miracle survivor. And then there’s Frank Cullotta, a former mobster in Chicago and Las Vegas who later joined the Witness Protection Program to testify against the mafia.

If you ever find yourself tuning out the news because you’re weary of pandemic updates, go to the Times’ page and put a face on the pandemic by reading a few stories of those who were taken too soon because of it.


The story behind Those We’ve Lost

Those We’ve Lost site

Rebecca Cryer


Writing About Writing

writing about writing

My friend Betsy Anderson is part of a group that runs grief writing workshops. Her own daughter Caroline died in 1995 at the age of 16 from a sudden illness, so Betsy is an inspiration of healing to workshop participants.

In November 2012 I encouraged a new friend Denise (who had lost her son Zane ten months earlier) to attend the local workshop with me. Hoping that Denise would find pathways of recovery in the experience, I wasn’t expecting much for myself. After all, I was already four years into the grieving process for my son Tim, and I believed that I was doing OK.

Ya, right. As the women began sharing their stories of the deaths of children, sisters, brothers, parents, and friends, I felt my composure slipping. Some losses were months old, several a few years, and one (a young child who had died from leukemia) was just five weeks. I felt the deep grief of all those women as if it were my own all over again. I sobbed nearly throughout the six-hour class. I had thought I would help Denise through the class, but it was she who patted my hand.

There was one poignant statement from a mom that was nearly a tipping point for me. She said, “I have closed doors that I might peek through but never open again.” I was embarrassing myself with the crying, but thankfully, I decided to see it through.

I learned the health benefits of writing on deeply meaningful experiences: a lowering of blood pressure, an increased production of T cells (immune warriors) and help in coping with chronic pain.

There were various methods of grief writing. One was sentence completion. The leaders provided prompts to certain aspects of our lives such as growing up.

  • As a child, for me home was…
  • When I was little, I was expected to…
  • My first experience with death was when…

A second component of the program was writing short lists.

  • Write three fears you presently have.
  • What are four things you miss about your loved one?
  • Name five things for which you are grateful.
  • Because of the death of your loved one, what are three things you have lost?
  • Because of the death of your loved one, what are three things you have found?

A two-part exercise instructed us first to make a list of words or phrases signifying what our lives had been like before the death of our loved one, and then a list of words or phrases that defined what our lives were like after the loss. Some examples from our group that day were:

Before: noisy, music, joyful, laughter, in control, safety, future, confidence, companionship, smiles

After: broken, never again, powerless, dazed, empty, rage, raw, lonely, questioning faith, tears

When the words and phrases of the group’s “after” were read out loud, it was as if a collective sigh echoed through the room. A community had been built because the feelings and emotions were so common. We weren’t the only ones! We weren’t strange or bizarre. We weren’t crazy. We were mourning.

The second part of the exercise was to choose one of the group’s Before and one of the After words/phrases and make an acrostic poem. For my After phrase, I chose Never Again.

Normalcy is difficult to find—thoughts of pre-drugs

Eventually is what I choose to recall.

Vivid images of the larger-than-life Tim

Entering the house, calling out “Hello Mama!”

Rich in spirit and love, Tim was.

And I know he is at peace in

God’s loving arms,

Always loving his family,

Interested still in the whole world,

Never to be forgotten.

After the workshop ended at 2:30, I went home and straight to bed. I was spent. But the experience was so meaningful to me that here I am, eight years later, writing about it. Writing about writing.

You don’t have to be in mourning to take advantage of the benefits of writing or journaling. You can be in any situation that is deeply meaningful to you. And I have good news: You don’t need to write every day, be a perfect speller, or know the proper use of a comma. You’re writing for yourself, for your own mental and physical health benefits.

I’ve included a link below that shows how beneficial writing is. Go buy yourself a beautiful notebook and begin.


Powerful Health Benefits of Journaling from Intermountain Healthcare.org

The Cinderella Sense Gets Its Due

sense of smell

I knew my daughter Laura was gifted in the language arts arena before she was three. At the time our favorite shampoo was called Lamaur Apple Pectin. It had the most delicious fragrance, so fresh and clean. One evening at bath time, Laura kept staring at the bottle. Finally, pointing out the brand name, she said, “Look, Mommy. There are the letters of my name with an M left over for Mommy!”

What brought this memory to mind from 30+ years ago? Safeguard has launched a new liquid hand soap without a name. It’s simply called Safeguard Liquid Hand Soap, Fresh Clean Scent. And it reminds me of that Apple Pectin shampoo. It’s between $5-6 for 25 ounces.

Our sense of smell doesn’t get the attention our other senses receive. It typically takes the back burner as we focus on seeing, hearing, tasting, and touching. But now our sense of smell is getting a lot of play with Covid-19 since the loss of sense of smell (termed anosmia) is a common symptom of infection. At first, the medical world thought the loss of ability to smell was anecdotal, like having a cold and losing that sense because of a stuffy nose. But now, anosmia is recognized as a cardinal symptom. (Cardinal symptoms are the key ones from which a diagnosis is made.)

It’s such a common earlier marker in infected people that some experts recommend we forget about checking for fevers and instead focus on whether or not folks can identify scents.

Dr. Andrew Badley, who heads a virus lab at the Mayo Clinic, noted regarding symptoms, “Some infected people can have anosmia and nothing else.” In a study that Dr. Badley and his colleagues conducted, they found that patients with Covid-19 were 27 times more likely than others to have lost their sense of smell. However, they were only 2.6 times more likely to be feverish.

So, throughout every day, I do my own self-test of verifying my sense of smell is still in good working order. I mindfully consider whatever it is I’m smelling, whether it’s the rose water I spritz on my face first thing in the morning, the chocolate birthday cake that’s coming out of the oven tonight, or the nameless Safeguard hand soap that reminds me of my little girl.


Live Science article on why smell triggers memories

ScienceAlert.Com on why Covid-19 causes anosmia

How Dr. Fauci and four other experts deal with Covid-19 risks

PS – If you search online for Lamaur Apple Pectin Shampoo, you’ll find it BUT here’s a Q&A from Amazon:

Question:  What happened to Lamaur Apple Pectin Shampoo’s wonderful smell? It is GONE!  Answer: The Apple Pectin Fruit Shampoo does not have the fragrance of Apple Pectin Shampoo although they are manufactured by LaMaur.


The Problem With Magical Thinking

magical thinking

We might imagine that magical thinking is something the creative people at Disney do, as in “Magical Thinking in the Magic Kingdom.”

But magical thinking can be unhealthy for our mental well-being if we take it too far. Most of us do a little of it now and then, such as believing (or semi-believing) in superstitions. Do you avoid walking under ladders and stay out of the path of a black cat? Do you try to be more careful on the 13th of the month when it falls on a Friday? How about adding “knock on wood” to a statement where you want something to continue as is?

According to Healthline.com, magical thinking is defined as “believing you can influence the outcome of specific events by doing something that has no bearing on the actual circumstances.”

My guess is that you’ve seen posts on social media that go something like this: “Repost this and great wealth will come your way next week.” Or “Comment AMEN and watch the blessings flow into your life!” Well, reposting and commenting AMEN (even if in all caps) are examples of magical thinking.

Magical thinking sometimes shows up in people who suffer from OCD. They may believe if they don’t say a word a specific number of times or if they don’t follow a certain routine or don’t touch a lucky item in a certain way, that they will bring forth negative consequences.

A video of an interview with a “doctor” (doctor of what was not revealed) showed up online last week. The guy proclaimed to know the “secret” of curing Coronavirus: Vitamin D. Yes, some studies show that strong levels of Vitamin D may help fight off this virus, just like it helps fight off other viruses. And with Covid-19, people with low levels may experience worse outcomes.

But that wasn’t this man’s hypothesis. He wanted viewers to believe that a strong level of Vitamin D is the ONLY thing you need to avoid Covid-19 infection. No need to wear a mask, wash your hands, or social distance. Nope, he proclaimed all we have to do is stay out in the sun or in tanning beds!

As his “evidence,” the charismatic speaker told us to consider that nursing homes (where people are typically inside) had high rates of the virus, but homeless people (who by their very definition are usually outside because they don’t have homes) just weren’t getting the virus!

Supporters had left comments such as, “We need to listen to this man!”

Really? I guess neither he nor his supporters had bothered to check out the validity of his “evidence.” Covid-19 has run rampant at homeless shelters in sunny California since the early days of the infection hitting the West Coast.

Believing that, “I won’t get Covid-19 if I have a high Vitamin D level” is just more magical thinking.

Yes, absolutely we each should maintain a good level of Vitamin D all the time because a deficiency causes health issues and the possibility of a poor outcome if we contract ANY virus since Vitamin D is crucial for the activation of immune system defenses.  How to get it naturally? 10-15 minutes of sunlight will fill your daily requirement if you’re light-skinned. Darker skin requires more time. Being a melanoma survivor of over 30 years, I monitor my sun exposure time to as little as possible to reap the benefit.

Vitamin D is found in foods such as fatty fish (salmon and tuna are two), fortified dairy products like milk and cheese, and egg yolks. And supplements are a choice as well.

So, before we decide to follow the next NEW advice that promises an easy way out of a problem, let’s consider whether it’s evidence supported or just the next version of magical thinking.


US News & World Report on Vitamin D studies relating to Covid-19

Why tanning beds don’t help with Vitamin D production


The Negative We Actually Need Today

negative capability

F. Scott Fitzgerald borrowed the poet’s phrase “Tender is the night” to become the title of his 1934 novel. The term “Bright Star” was taken from one of his poems and used as the title of a 2009 biographical film on the poet’s life. Rachel Carson’s 1962 book “Silent Spring” (on the adverse effects on our environment caused by pesticides) was supposedly so named because Carson had been inspired by a line of his poetry that says, “And no birds sing.”

Well, since others have used English poet John Keats’ words for their own purposes, so will I.

Keats, who died in 1821 at the age of 25, used the phrase Negative Capability just once in an 1817 letter to his brothers. Keats was describing a conversation with friends from a few days earlier. Wikipedia notes that Keats meant the term to “characterize the capacity of the greatest writers (particularly Shakespeare) to pursue a vision of artistic beauty even when it leads them into intellectual confusion and uncertainty, as opposed to a preference for philosophical certainty over artistic beauty.”

Although the primary reference was in regard to a writer’s ability, Negative Capability has come to have philosophical meanings. After some research, I believe this is my favorite meaning of a person possessing negative capability:

One who has a willingness to embrace uncertainty and can make peace with not knowing everything right now

If ever there was a time for Negative Capability to be present in our lives, it is this day, this week, this month.

Many of us are like four-year-olds on a car trip whining, “How much longer?!” We demand to know when this COVID-19 crisis will be over. Come on; give us a date to circle on our calendars so we can X-out the days as we get through them!

Acting as if it’s our right as Americans to demand certainty in uncertain times only causes us more stress. What we know is that we don’t know for sure when life will resume its normal patterns. And in the meantime, we’ll follow the rules of social distancing and washing hands.

Embracing uncertainty can assist us in accepting our changed lives. For instance, you may have seen one of the Facebook postings that reads like a lesson from the Bible. This one is by Kitty O’Meara:

And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently. And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal. And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.

Or this one from the Center for Spiritual Living: “Nothing should go back to normal. Normal wasn’t working. If we go back to the way things were, we will have lost the lesson. May we rise up and do better.”

Wishing you joy, peace, and some negative capability on this day.


Article from BrainPickings.org

Mind Over Body OR Body Over Mind?

Mind over bodyFor many years I have found the subject of the mind/body connection fascinating. One of the original books on the topic that hooked me goes back to 1987. Minding the Body, Mending the Mind by Dr. Joan Borysenko is still applicable all these years later. In fact, I include the book as suggested reading to my public speaking students.

So I was thrilled to find in a new book I’m currently reading (Successful Aging by Dr. Daniel Levitin) that the author has a strong focus on the mind/body connection as it relates to aging well. Dr. Levitin (62) is a neuroscientist and cognitive psychologist. I appreciate that instead of relying simply on his own work and own opinions for the book, he reviewed around four thousand peer-reviewed scientific papers.

One phrase that popped out at me in the section on exercise is embodied cognition. Basically our brains thrive on our body’s physical movement. Our memory, problem-solving skills, planning abilities, creativity, and thinking are enhanced by physical activity.

Note that “physical activity” doesn’t necessarily mean becoming a gym rat or taking up running. (Unless those activities bring you joy. Or unless you’re Julia “Hurricane” Hawkins who took up competitive athletics at age 75 and then at age 100 moved on to running. At 101 she won the hundred-yard dash in the National Senior Games.)

Physical activity can be as simple as moving around, interacting with the environment.

Dr. Levitin says the true meaning of embodied cognition came as an epiphany to him when he went for a walk in the Quebec countryside with two 70-ish friends. The path was a dirt trail through the woods. They meandered over tree roots, rocks, and fallen branches. They had to negotiate around young children running along the path as well as duck those pesky low-hanging branches.

It struck him that he had to carefully watch where he walked, making sure that foot placement was just so. Compared to walking on a treadmill or strolling on a nicely paved sidewalk (both beneficial movement), walking outdoors, he believes, is the best physical activity to keep the brain active and flexible.

It turns out I had intuitively already made this part of my routine. While walking my dog Grace along a creek at a local park, we negotiate our way among humongous tree roots. Then we go off the path to mount the small hillside so Grace can sniff out the fence line adjacent to a cow pasture. We make our way through an uneven terrain of pine needles, pinecones, dead leaves, twigs, fallen tree limbs, and rocks on the park’s opposite side. For once I am ahead of the curve for health recommendations!

I think everyone over 60 and their adult children will benefit from reading Successful Aging. While the book (at 400 pages not counting the 74 pages of NOTES) can at times read a bit too much like a textbook, it’s thoughtfully written. It’s not a list of DO THIS / DON’T DO THIS bullet points, nor does Levitin try to shock readers with DO THIS OR ELSE! predictions.

Instead, the pages are filled with interesting science-based material and gentle nudges for readers to incorporate the key concepts into their daily lives in order to live a longer, healthier, and enriched life.

The book also provides the information our adult children need to understand this new stage of life we parents are living through, such as why we grow accustomed to things the way they are. For instance, the challenge of a new cell phone doesn’t arise because someone has turned 72 and suddenly grown stupid. It’s because of changes in the brain that make learning something new more difficult as well as make our fingers less dexterous.

This is a book that will bring a better understanding among our family members, and so it is well worth the 400-page read.


Interview clip of Dr. Levitin

Making Ourselves Sick (with fear)

making ourselves sick with fear

I rarely write about topical issues mostly because it’s the “stuff” that everyone else is already talking about. If your email inbox is anything like mine, this week you’ve had new mail from your bank, the credit union, your church, the grocery stores, your insurance agent, your children’s school, and any place where you might physically show up. I even had one from Budget Rent A Car (from whom I haven’t rented since 2009). The companies all want to assure us that OUR health and safety is of utmost priority for them during this time of COVID-19 crisis.

I just Googled COVID-19 and was rewarded with  2,650,000,000 results. That’s two BILLION, six hundred fifty million. Clearly, every adult on earth knows about this topic.

While naturally I have some concern about the virus that is especially threatening for older adults with underlying health conditions, I refuse to sit around and wring my hands. And actually, I am more concerned about the deep stress and overwhelming anxiety so many people are going through worrying about COVID-19.

I rarely watch any live news but was too lazy to get up from the sofa when it came on last night. Story after story was shared by anxious newscasters about schools temporarily closing in the DC metropolitan area. After nine minutes I announced that I couldn’t take any more. The media was making this proactive step sound like confirmation that we are all going to die.

If we focus on fear and the worst predictions, we’ll make ourselves miserable. I hear and see people tuning out the positive aspects with a “yes but” response. As most psychologists will tell you, “yes but” actually means “no.”

Four days ago the Director-General of the World Health Organization Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus offered remarks on the COVID-19 virus. He said that among those who are infected, most will recover.

Yes, most will recover, just as most people recover from regular influenza. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that during the flu season of 2019/2020 there have been at least 22,000 deaths and 370,000 hospitalizations among the 36 million people unlucky enough to have experienced the “regular” flu.

Follow the CDC precautions for avoiding this current virus. Absolutely wash your hands on a regular basis and use hand sanitizer when you can’t. Stay home if you’re sick. Cover your coughs and sneezes. I would add stop reading every alarming article and watching every scary video about it. Check out true sources such as the CDC instead.

And keep in mind Dr. Ghebreyesus closing words in his remarks:

“Let hope be the antidote to fear. Let solidarity be the antidote to blame. Let our shared humanity be the antidote to our shared threat.”


Remarks by WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Please read!

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advice page


Who Knows What’s Next?

what's next

My mother-in-law Rosalie often quipped an adage up to the week before she died at the age of 100: “Old age isn’t for sissies.”

QuoteInvestigator.com says that the phrase first appeared in the Reader’s Digest April 1968 magazine, having been submitted to their “Life in the United States” section by a Ruth Hain from California. Ruth’s story was that her group of elderly friends had been sitting around complaining of various aches and pains and the maladies associated with aging. Until finally one friend said, “Well, it just proves one thing; old age sure ain’t for sissies.”

As we age we hear more about decline, both physical and mental. Maybe we clicked on one social media article about aging and the algorithms kicked in, gleefully filling our news feeds and inboxes with notices about the hazards of getting on in years.

Many of them scare us because we don’t want to be THAT person who ends up with Alzheimer’s, or THAT person confined to a bed or a wheelchair, or THAT person who has been forgotten and is living in isolation.

The older we get, the more frightening the concept of not being the same version of ourselves becomes.

Next month I will cross the calendar date when I will officially be closer to 70 than 69.

May I just say that feels impossible?

For the past ten years I haven’t minded sharing that I’m in my 60s. I had a blast at my 50th high school reunion in 2018, reminiscing with all the other 68-year-olds. Keeping active in all the ways that it counts (spiritually, mentally, physically, socially), I haven’t felt my age. I don’t feel old.

So I’m not certain why the idea of becoming 70 in the fall feels like a dramatic turning point.

The “aging” site that most frequently pops up in my email feed is called NextAvenue.org. Their tagline is “where grown-ups keep growing,” and their menu tabs are: Health / Money and Policy / Work and Purpose / Living / Caregiving / Technology.

Unlike many of the “you’re-getting-old-and-you-need-to-be-afraid-of-what’s-coming-next” sites, articles, and stories, Next Avenue offers encouragement, insight, inspirational stories, and advice to those in their midlife season.

I like it because it’s not one of those preachy sites that makes it seem as though there is just one right way to live your older life. And actually, it parallels my teaching and writing methods: offering up new information in a positive way for readers to consider and then ponder how they might find ways of incorporating the ideas to improve their own lives.

I’ve included a link below so you can check out their site.

So for now, this is your 69 years, four months, and 22 days old blogger signing off.



Next Avenue