Grab a pen - here's a writing prompt!

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In order to your get creative aging juices flowing, I'm going to offer writing prompts from time to time. These are questions to get you thinking about yourself in different ways.  So, grab your writing tool of choice (laptop, pen, pencil, paper), find a comfortable spot to sit and put your critical voice on hold. In fact, tell your inner critic to leave the room.  Read the prompt, think about it and start writing without censoring yourself. Nobody will see this; it's strictly for you. Take at least ten minutes to write whatever comes to mind and keep your pen, pencil or fingers on the keyboard moving. Write until you feel that you just can't say anymore—like squeezing the final bit of toothpaste out of the tube.  Stop, take a breath and read what you wrote. You might just be surprised. Ready?   

Writing Prompt:  Find a picture of yourself when you were younger, preferably as a child, teen or young adult. If you don't have a picture, don't worry about it. Now, write a letter to your younger self. From who you are now, and with all of your life experience, what words of wisdom would you impart to this younger version of you? 

Have fun with this! 

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Remembering Mom by Cathy Love

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My mom died two years ago at the age of 94 1/2. Recently, while stressing out over tests for breast cancer, I have been thinking of how Mom comported herself as she too was tested, poked and prodded in her last years. Believe me it wasn’t pretty.

This is what I remember about Mom:

Every six weeks she'd get a shot in the eye for macular degeneration without complaining once and smiling the whole time.  When she was wheeled back to the operating room to have her pacemaker replaced, my sister texted that it was like she was going to a party; she and the surgeon were singing and laughing all the way to the operating room. Another time I had to take her for a chest X-ray on one floor, walk her to another wing to draw blood, undress her in a freezing room and all she was worried about was getting home for her Thursday night cocktail party with her neighbors.

She loved to knit hats for her doctors. Once when she had about ten doctors hovering over her my friend chirped, "that’s a lot of hats to knit!"  She just seemed to take it all in stride and with a smile. One of the last times I saw her we were testing her blood and I was pricking her finger but the damn machine was not working. I must have pricked her finger and drawn blood ten times and we just laughed at how ridiculous the whole nonsense was.

So two weeks ago, channeling mom as I waited for the MRI, I hummed and quietly sang in the waiting room. When they took me back for the test I joked and chatted with the nurse. And as they injected the contrast that I was sure was going to kill me I said, "hmm, not bad, when can we do this again ?"  All with a smile.  Oh, and when my doctor called me, two weeks after my test to say all is well, I smiled and thanked him for the call. I didn’t yell at him as a friend suggested I do for taking two weeks to get back to me. Mom would never do that. She’d invite him over for a cocktail to share in the good news . . . and knit him a hat.

Thank you mom for aging with grace and style. Remembering your smile and  strength through adversity will only help me navigate rough waters for years to come. 

 

                      Cathy and her mom

                     Cathy and her mom

Cathy Love is 60 and lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and their son. She and her husband are happily retired.

 

Do you have a personal essay on aging you'd like to share? If so, I'd love to read it.  Send it my way!

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Maybe I Need a New Mirror by Joan Ogden

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I’ve been doing some thinking about aging, now that I have reached my mid-50’s.  Woops, make that my mid-70’s.  See, that’s the problem.  My brain has not caught up with what my body thinks it is doing.  

Remember when you were 10, and desperate to make it to 12, or 19 and lied about being 21?  You thought there was something magical about being older.  Well, even in our mid-50’s (oh, there I go again), being older IS better than the alternative, right?  But I digress.  

When I am introduced to a child, I estimate the child’s age and add two years.  Then I say, “You’re 12, right?” and watch the child break into a grin and say, “I’m 10.”  And I know I have made a friend for life.  But I would never upon meeting someone above the age of 50 even consider mentioning age, let alone adding two or five years to my estimate in an attempt to flatter them.  In fact, should the issue of age come up, and my new acquaintance says he/she is X, my polite response is “I would never have guessed”, despite the fact that I had already guessed the actual age was X plus 5 or so – as I allow for that acquaintance to be suffering the same brain/body disconnect as I, and he/she really is X plus 5 years old.  Further it is likely that my new acquaintance has no idea that despite what my age appears to be, it is really mid-50’s. 

I can delude myself in myriad ways – my suits from 20 years ago still fit (if I ignore that I now don’t button the jacket – necessary, although my weight hasn’t changed).  I note to myself that I still work out on the elliptical to a heart rate of 140 – and it certainly has nothing to do with aging that now it is 30 minutes, not 50.  And those things in my ears?  Lots of people have them – certainly any of us who regularly went to loud rock band dances in the 1980’s – oh dear, make that the 1960’s. And everyone know those folks at the DMV get a bunch of stuff wrong - just LOOK at what they put on my drivers' license! I need to write to the Governor. 

But then my mid-50’s brain bubble of self-image is faced with the cruelest possible insult, the %^#$@ mirror.  The deviation between ME and that woman in the mirror is astonishing – who the hell is that old bat?  Sigh.  Maybe I need a new mirror – you think?

 

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Joan Ogden is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of UC Davis with an MS from Michigan State University, both in mathematics.  She taught mathematics at a variety of colleges and universities, worked with the Department of the Navy on the Apollo Project (she thinks she must have been age 5 at the time), began her actuarial career in 1976, and she has been consulting since 1985.  In community activities, she is a recipe tester for America’s Test Kitchen, a volunteer as a healthy control for muscle and vascular research at the U/VA and a trained Community Emergency Response Team member.

 

 

Do you have a personal essay on aging you'd like to share? If so, I'd love to read it.  Send it my way!

Join the mailing list for info on upcoming workshops, writing prompts and blog updates.

Wuff on a Porch Swing by Bill Funk

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Bill Funk has been a hobby and a professional photographer for over 30 years. His portraits have been published in local, national and international magazines.  An Air Force veteran, Bill displays his photographs at the Salt Lake City VA’s yearly Art show. Two years ago, his photograph “Acoustic Music” was selected to be judged at the VA’s National Competition in Mississippi and received 3rd Place out of 1200 competitors. The original framed print is currently hanging at the guitar store Acoustic Music in Salt Lake City. Bill also displays his work at Art Access shows and events.

His short stories have been published in “ Sine Cera,” a Salt Lake Community Writing Center publication. "Demons," his one-act play, was performed by the Salt Lake City Acting Company.

Bill enjoys the beauty and work of nature and will continue to seek inspiration from the world. Another subject dear to his heart and a source of inspiration is music, musicians and the performing arts. One of Bill's favorite quotes: "Life can only be understood backwards; but you must live it forwards." - Soren Kierkegaard

 

Do you have a story to tell, or a photo that tells a story?  Send it my way! 

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Honey, I'm Home . . . A Lot! By Debbie Leaman

Years ago, I left an investment career to become a freelance writer. During the day, when my husband Howard was at work and our two kids went off to school, our house was my domain.  I worked at my desk in a common area off the kitchen where sunlight poured in through large windows—a luxurious and quiet space where I wrote without distractions and answered to no one. It was perfect.

And, then, last summer, Howard retired.

Retirement: Diving into Danger by Howard Leaman

“What are you doing with your time, now that you’ve retired?”  That was the question the Ski School Director asked me during our pre-season ski instructor orientation. My answer to him was not even close to adequate, especially when I realized that many of my friends have been wondering that very thing for themselves.  What I’ve been doing is not so much a “list,” as much as a continuing process of calibration.

Initially, thinking about going from a busy medical practice to “retired,” I'd developed a sense of impending dread. Would I become useless, cranky and senile? Would my health deteriorate? Would I “fail retirement,” and become depressed with nothing to do, and have to go back to work? 

No— I’d prove my continued vitality.

Online Dating For Seniors by Karen Hayes

At age seventy, I signed up with a matchmaking website for seniors. If you haven’t tried online dating (and it was all new to me), the first hurdle for a woman ‘over a certain age’ is to get past the idea that meeting someone online is too much of a fringe thing, and that goes against everything our generation was warned about.          

But if you decide to give it a try, here are some things to consider. First, you’ll need a ‘handle’ for your profile. Remember the days of truckers on their CB radios using nicknames like GoodBuddy and RubberDuck? ’ Well, a dating site is like that. So how do you choose a name for yourself that gets attention without being . . . what?  . . . too coy, as in Needaknight?  Too suggestive, like Sweet&Low?  Too anything?  

Creative Aging Blog - a forum to share our stories!

Creative Aging Blog - a forum to share our stories!

For years I've resisted setting up a blog. I'm a deliberate writer, so feeding a blog when I'm not inspired or don't have time isn't something I felt comfortable with. But, about a year ago, when I was preparing  my Creative Aging writing workshops, I scoured the web for personal essays on aging and I came up short. I couldn't find any sites for these types of pieces. And that got me thinking . . .

Lessons in Courage

I’ve taken ski lessons since the age of seven, and have always hated them. I’ve been led down chutes, over precipices and through the trees, and have panicked more than once. While I love to ski, and want to improve, I struggle to keep my fear in check.

So why, at the age of 57 did I become a ski instructor?