Archive for the ‘Aging’ Category

  • Take Back the Word SENIOR!

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    These Super Heroes are now in their 70's!

    These Super Heroes are now in their 70′s!

     

    As we dance into the New Year, it’s time to take back the word SENIOR! Really.

    When did “senior” become the uber- negative to be avoided at any cost?  Remember when you were in high school and couldn’t wait to become a senior? Even more so in college when “upperclassman” was okay but senior was the penultimate. Then, after graduation and out in the work world, did you strive to be the junior partner? No – your goal was senior partner, senior editor, senior designer, senior producer etc. Achieving “seniorhood” was always the aim until…  until you hit age 50 and then it became the pariah it is today.

    2014 is the time to reclaim our “senior” creds. Those of us over 50 are among or children of those called the “greatest generation.” We are brave and iconoclastic. We successfully fought for political freedom, eradicated barriers to racial, gender, religious and sexual discrimination, conquered diseases and global epidemics, provided broad access to healthcare and education, and explored the moon.

    Today’s seniors are providing an essential boost to the economy. Eighteen percent of Americans 65 and older continue to work and pay taxes, at least $120 billion a year, a figure that doesn’t include state income taxes.

    Senior entrepreneurs are launching new businesses stimulating job creation and growth, and boosting prosperity for all age groups. The highest rate of business start-up activity over the past decade has consistently been among people in the 55-to-64 age bracket. Almost half of all new entrepreneurs are between the ages of 45 and 64, and this cohort continues to grow.

    It’s time to stop the “senior” gloom and doom. This is not, as too many espouse, a “silver tsunami.” It is, rather, a “golden dividend!”

    Advocacy matters but action’s even better. Here’s to shaking things up, reclaiming the word, “senior,” and to the people who can make it happen!

    Happy New Year!

  • Rosie the Riveter – Still Riveting and Relevant at 93!

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    Screen shot 2013-10-12 at 11.49.46 AM

    I was amazed to read NBC News Correspondent, Mike Taibbi’s, report “A Rosie the Riveter Still on the Job at 93” and learn that one of the original Rosies continues to work and not just at any job but at the Boeing plant in Long Beach California. Taibbi interviewed, Elinor Otto, 93,  who still gets up at 4 a.m. each morning and drives to the Boeing plant, where she inserts rivets into the wing sections of C-17 cargo planes.  It’s a job she’s been doing at various aircraft assembly plants since 1942 when she was part of the original Rosie Brigades.

    “We were part of this big thing,” Otto said. “We hoped we’d win the war. We worked hard as women, and were proud to have that job.”

    Otto’s first job paid 65 cents an hour, about $38 less than she makes now, and she had to pay $20 a month for her young son’s childcare.

    At war’s end, the “Rosies” disappeared. “Within days we were gone,” Otto said.

    And with bills still to pay, Taibbi notes, Otto tried other lines of work.  But office jobs didn’t appeal to her, and a short stretch as a carhop fell by the wayside when they told her she had to do the job on roller-skates.  A stroke of luck though: Southern California had come out of the war with a booming aircraft industry and Otto’s skill set — she was an ace with a rivet gun — brought her back into the game.

    Otto’s story inspired me to do a little more “Rosie Brigade” research and I discovered there really was a riveter named Rose who worked in the Willow Run Aircraft Factory in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Neither that Rosie or our Otto, however, was the famous character depicted in the well-known 1942 poster by J. Howard Miller with the title ”We Can Do It.” Miller’s character was a fictional representation of all the Rosies, and his bandanna-clad Rosie became one of the most successful recruitment tools in American history, and remains an iconic image of working women.

    Rosie-the-Riveter-poster-s

    Another iconic, albeit far more political, Rosie poster was created by Norman Rockwell for The Saturday Evening Post May, 1943, cover. Rockwell portrayed Rosie with a flag in the background and a copy of Adolf Hitler’s racist tract “Mein Kampf” under her feet.

    rosie-the-riveter-1943

    Though the images are fiction the working Rosies were certainly real. American women entered the workforce in unprecedented numbers during World War II, as widespread male enlistment left gaping holes in the labor force. More than 310,000 women worked in the U.S. aircraft industry in 1943, making up 65 percent of the industry’s total workforce (compared to just 1 percent in the pre-war years).

    So why is Elinor Otto, one of the original Rosie’s still working today?

    She says, “I’m a working person, I guess. I like to work. I like to be around people that work. I like to get up, get out of the house, get something accomplished during the day.”

    One of the things she’s accomplished, Taibbi reports, is to serve as an inspiration — to her co-workers, her boss, and to those who honored Otto when they founded the Rosie the Riveter Park in Long Beach, CA this past September.

    Perhaps the greatest accolade came from her boss, Don Pitcher, who said, “Otto is still on the job because she can still do it!

    To remain so relevant at age 93 – that’s truly an inspiring accomplishment!

     

     

  • All that Is New Is Old: Celebrating Vintage and Resilience

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    200px-BraveNewWorld_FirstEdition

    “The charm of history and its enigmatic lesson consist in the fact that, from age to age, nothing changes and yet everything is completely different.” — Aldous Huxley.

    I was struck , today, by the incongruence of three recent articles: two about the sadness of losing, in one case, and the shrinking of, in another, two highly successful, beloved, media institutions, and a third celebrating  5 Vintage Versions of Modern Social Media from Centuries Ago.

    Our loss of the venerable, weekly Life magazine, was a salient point in the NY Times obituary of Life’s last Managing Editor, Ralph Graves. The obit hails Graves’ valiant efforts to keep this American institution afloat in its turbulent final years.

    “Life,” the obituary notes, “was one of a number of general-interest magazines — among the others were Look and The Saturday Evening Post — that both informed and entertained large numbers of Americans throughout the 1940s and ’50s.

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    Life, in particular, with its emphasis on photography, was said to be the country’s chief source for learning what the world looked like.” Until the advent of TV…

    Another headline, PBS News Hour Facing Cutbacks, Layoffs and Office Closings, mournfully reminds us of the rapidly shrinking halcyon days of in-depth news coverage.

    Then, thank heavens, Maria Popova’s, weekly edition of Brain Pickings popped up in my in-box. Popova’s celebrating  5 Vintage Versions of Modern Social Media from Centuries Ago assures us that all that is new in modern start-ups definitely has roots in all that is old. Positively music to the ears of this 60+ start-up entrepreneur!

    Popova covers everything from Voltaire’s status updates to Edison’s viral videos, including what Diderot has to do with data visualization as she notes, “We’ve previously made the case that everything builds on what came before yet our human tendency is to inflate and overestimate the novelty of our ideas. Today, we turn to five concepts from the centuries of yore remarkably similar to the central premises of five of today’s social web darlings [Twitter, Facebook, Quora, YouTube, and Tumblr].”

    Popova’s insights are, as always, brilliant in their clarity. I’d only add one more “modern darling,” infographics. In another illuminating posting, The Lives of 10 Famous Painters Visualized  as Minimalist Infographic Biographies, Popova visually distills the lives of artists, Pollock, Dalí, Matisse, Klimt, Picasso, Mondrian, Klee, Boccioni, Kandinsky, and Miro, in modern infographics!

    We never stop learning. The format may be completely different, but our curiosity never changes.

    Vintage is vintage and Resilience is key!

  • Take Back the Glory of “Senior”

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    Every time I use the word “senior” to describe our generation, people flinch or cringe. “How did this happen?” I asked a colleague last week.  When we were seniors in high school we felt like kings and queens of the mountain. A senior in college was even better. We were the class imbued with all the wisdom those hallowed halls could offer before stepping into the “real aka business world.” Once installed in the business world, we could not wait to achieve senior status: be it Senior Editor, Senior Manager, Senior Partner – Senior whatever. Senior was the epitome of excellence and achievement. Then, when we hit age 50, to be called a senior was a kiss of death. You were now over-the-hill, redundant or worst of all invisible.

    Seniors tried to counter the negative stereotype with adjectives such as “Older Adult.” Talk about redundant; it’s like saying a child is a little toddler. Then, people seized on the word Boomer as a less vapid alternative to Older Adult. Talk about pathetic. Boomer sounds more like a slightly deranged character in the 1994 American epic movie, Forrest Gump, than a revered and respected senior citizen.

    I remember being struck by a comment the late Betty Freidan made to an audience of hundreds at an NBA (National Booksellers Association) meeting. She said, “All of the prejudice I have encountered in Feminism pales – absolutely pales – in comparison to what I have experienced in Ageism.” That was back in the early 1990′s, and we certainly have not made much progress in the ensuing 20+ years.

    Let’s look at a little aging reality here. Superman’s first appearance was in Action Comics #1, in 1938. Wonder Woman was introduced  in All Star Comics #8 in 1941.  No spring chickens, these two are still super acting 74 and 71 respective years later.

    I know these riveting details, because I read the recent Wall Street Journal article,  A Haven for Aged Super Heroes. The article was about Metropolis Collectibles Inc., a firm in New York City, which buys and sells vintage comics. Especially noteworthy, is the fact that Metropolis recently sold the aforementioned 1938 Action Comics #1, which debuted Superman, for $2.2 million. Talk about the value of an “Aging Superhero!”

    A month after reading the “Aging Super Heroes” WSJ piece, the New York Times published History Hits the Campaign Trail. Their article describes how, in this miasma (my word) of political campaigning, Obama and Romney continue to “invoke the opinions of long-dead white males in powdered wigs.” The article notes, “While it’s been a long time since any of the founding fathers made a personal appearance on the campaign trail, they continue speaking from beyond the grave through the mouths of present-day candidates, weighing in on matters as disparate — and perhaps unimaginable to them in life — as health care reform, gay marriage and abortion rights.” It seems highly ironic in these times of rampant ageism, that politicians fighting for their political lives need the wisdom of these aged statesmen to validate their positions.

    Last but far from least on the ludicrousness of ageism, I call your attention to a dazzling matter of “Advanced (as in age) Style.” We highlighted this book a few weeks ago, but I’ve just learned of a video – in which you can hear each of these fabulous fashionistas, Grande Dames [in their 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's and 100's] describe how they feel the secret of life has nothing to do with age. It is, rather, all about the art of being oneself forever!

    I’m off to buy a new hat…

  • What do you want to do with the rest of your life?

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    Courtesy, Elsa Franco - http://recreateyourlifetoday.blogspot.com

     

    It’s been many years since most of us asked, “What do I want to be when I grow up?”

    Now, at the grown-up age of 50 and more, it’s time to ask, “What do I want to do with the rest of my life?”

    It’s much easier this time. Just think of all you’ve experienced: successes, failures, loves, losses, joy and sadness. You’ve learned a lot in those 50+ years that will help you focus on what you’d like to do next. As you ponder, it’s important to remember what John F. Kennedy said about aging: “It’s not just about adding years to life. More importantly, it’s about adding life to those years.”

    Your first question should be: “What would I like to do for an additional 20-30 years?”

    Then, after you’ve pinpointed a few options, you need to determine if your talents match your aspirations.  Inventory your talents. We’re not talking about tuning in to the blitz of bizarre “talent” shows on TV today but, rather, that you consider the parts of your essential make-up:  the gifts, passions, interests and natural aptitudes you were born with and which have been fine-tuned through years of experience and skills development.

    As one of our favorite bloggers, Joanna Maxwell, says, “If you want to find long-term satisfaction and success, it’s helpful to identify your talents (and equally, your non-talents).”

    She recommends: “Start by listing everything that comes easily to you, areas where you just ‘get it’, where you’re a ‘natural’. No matter how big or small, whether work-related or not, all these talents have a place. Maybe you are known for your sense of location, or your ability to read IKEA instructions, or your singing voice. Are you the one with no sense of rhythm, or a talent for saying the wrong thing when meeting with the boss? Are you the one who everyone relies on to soothe a disgruntled client, or organize the Christmas party, or wrestle with a problem til it is solved? Don’t include things at which you’re competent, but have no passion for…  if it’s not something you would do just for the pleasure of it, then leave it off your list!”

    To help get you into the nitty gritty talent analysis, you might, as Maxwell also suggests, look at Howard Gardner’s eight core intelligences, and identify which ones relate to your natural talents and which do not.

    1. Linguistic: words, spoken or written, including foreign languages. Adept at reading, writing, telling stories and memorizing words along with dates.

    2. Logical-mathematical:  recognizing abstract patterns, reasoning and numbers and critical thinking.

    3. Musical:  this goes beyond core musical talent and includes those who use underlying rhythms to structure a film or a teaching program, a book or a public event.

    4. Spatial:  ability to visualize with the mind’s eye and to use those images to conceptualize actions in the ‘real’ world.

    5. Kinesthetic:  excel in physical activities such as sports or dance; learn best by doing something physically, rather than by reading or hearing about it; good at building and making things; and keen sense of timing.

    6. Naturalist:  skilled in relating information to one’s natural surroundings; recognizing similarities and differences; detecting patterns; making distinctions; and categorizing things.

    7. Interpersonal:  knowledge of and ability to understand, anticipate reactions, work, connect, lead and influence others.

    8. Intrapersonal:  in-depth knowledge of yourself, what makes you unique; being able to identify your own goals, fears, strengths and weaknesses and use them to be effective in your life.

    After identifying your unique talents, you should create a profile, including such Maxwellian nuggets as:

    “I instinctively see the patterns in things, but struggle with too much fine detail. I love being with other people, but not too many at one time; I am good at one-on-one discussions or listening. I love the chance to do creative thinking in my work, preferably alone. I have a real green thumb and a way with dogs (but not cats!). I have a good ear for music, but am hopeless playing an instrument, let alone singing. I make a mean curry but have no hand for pastry, it’s too finickity for me.’”

    Inventory and profile in hand, it’s essential to focus on that key question, “What would I like to do for the rest of my life?” for, as Henry James said, “It’s time to start living the life you imagined!”

  • The More You Live, The More You Have To Express

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    Courtesy, www.gutenberg.org

    As I was driving out of Washington this afternoon, I was listening to an interview with the marvelous Trinidad-born, jazz musician, Etienne Charles, who is scheduled to perform at the DC Jazz Fest this month.

    His rich music is, as described on his website, “at least four generations deep: his great-grandfather, Clement Monlouis, emigrated to Trinidad from the overseas French department of Martinique bringing his folk music to the village of Mayaro; the young trumpeter’s grandfather, Ralph Charles’ distinct cuatro style can be heard on the classic folk and calypso recordings of the Growling Tiger; and, Etienne’s father, Francis Charles, was a member of Phase II Pan Groove, one of Trinidad’s most progressive steel bands and one that Etienne himself would later join. Immersed in his father’s vast record collection, and suffused with the sounds of calypso, steel pan, and African Shango drumming, Etienne imbibed many of the influences that presently constitute the diverse colors of his harmonic palette.”

    But, impressive as his musical heritage is, I was most struck when he commented on that heritage, saying,  “The More You Live The More You Have To Express.”

    How poignant, especially on this day when Queen Elizabeth, age 86, is celebrating her Diamond Jubilee. Not too long ago, we noted in this blog just how much you and the Queen have in common.

    Then, too, look at the stars participating in the Queen’s concert this evening: Sir Elton John, age 65; Sir Paul McCartney, age 70; and Dame Shirley Bassey, age 75, among many other “golden oldies.” Their performances, imbued with experience gleaned from the decades they have lived, were some of the most moving of their careers.

    May we all live – and express our lives – as well!

  • Advanced Style: A Sight for Sore Eyes

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    More than a sight, Ari Seth Cohen’s new book, Advanced Style, is a testament to the art of being oneself – forever!

    In his introduction, Cohen writes, “I have never considered ‘old’ a bad word. To be old is to be experienced, wise and advanced. The ladies [in their 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's and 100's] I photograph challenge stereotypical views on age and aging. They are youthful in mind and spirit and express themselves through personal style and individual creativity. The soul of Advanced Style is not bound to age or even style, but rather to the celebration of life.”

    Ari Seth Cohen and Mimi Weddell

    In this blog we have often addressed originality and the important ways in which that originality or style is our unique brand and our selling point as we seek to remain active in the work force or re-invent ourselves. Most recently, we noted in our ode to Edith Piaf, No Regrets: Have the Courage to Live a Life True to Yourself.

    Creativity can and should be pro-active for, as George Eliot said,  “It’s never too late to be who you might have been.”

    The Grande Dames photographed by Cohen share their own nuggets of wisdom:

    “Elegance is refined with age.”

    “Style is above all, the right attitude.”

    “Fashion says ‘me too,’ while style says ‘only me.’”

    “If you try to imitate too much, you will look like nothing. Never compare, you are you!”

    “We must dress every day for the theatre of our lives.”

    In her forward to Advanced Style, Maira Kalman, a fashionista in her own right , as well as an illustrator, author, artist, and designer, says, “Ari Cohen has done something very important. He has looked at our grand population and singled out the people that, in a way, are most invisible and have the most to offer.”

    “We are lucky,” Kalman continues, “when any older person crosses our path. Our lives are enriched just by proximity. The wisdom. The spirit. The saying exactly what they think. The dispensing of advice. The courage. The humor. The crankiness. The kindness. Or the iconoclasm. All of these come from people who have lived a long life.”

    i have enough

    Ahhhh…. that “buy a hat” is also key for Mimi Weddell, one of Cohen’s many elegant ladies (pictured in the photo with Cohen, above), who said of her life, “I can’t imagine going without a hat. The only romantic thing left in life is a hat.”

    My grandmother always wore a hat and I adored her. My great Aunt Dell wore her hat at a saucy angle as she fearlessly maneuvered her ambulance across the battlefields of France in WW I. Here’s to all the Grand Dames in our lives!

     

     

  • No Regrets: Have the Courage to Live a Life True to Yourself

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    Lightning Striking Behind the Eiffel Tower, photo by Bertrand Kulik, Paris 2008

     

    I found this article, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, forwarded to me by a Canadian friend, profound, poignant and a call to action!

    The author, Susie Steiner for The Guardian (UK), writes about Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. Ware recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

    Steiner notes, “Ware writes of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom. ‘When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently,’ she says, ‘common themes surfaced again and again.’”

    She says her patients’ # 1 regret is,

    I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

    “This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”

    The question I’d ask, if you haven’t already done so, is how do we take charge of our lives to live the life we want to lead and not what is expected of us? It takes introspection first and for those of us healthy individuals 60+ it’s not a moment too soon to begin.

    A life examined is not an easy thing but, in today’s market-driven world where nearly everything is outsourced, some of you may be delighted (I was horrified) to learn we even have an opportunity to outsource our lives. The possibilities as noted in this essay, The Outsourced Life, by Arlie Russell Hochschild, a professor emerita of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of “The Second Shift” and the forthcoming book “The Outsourced Self: Intimate Life in Market Times,” are endless.

    Whether you do it yourself or you bring in some outside help, the important thing is that you Do It!

    When I reach the end of my life, I want to be able to say, “I regret nothing.” The French chanteuse, Edith Piaf, also known as “The Little Sparrow,” captures it best in her famous song, “Non, je ne regrette rien.” Even more than her words, study her face – especially her eyes – and listen to the passion in her voice. This is a life lived truly.

  • When What You See Counts More Than How You Look!

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    Paperweight Glass Eyes, Courtesy allproducts.com

    As I sit in the eye of Hurricane Irene, I have a few moments to reflect on a world turned upside down in the past seven days.  Earthquakes, a powerful hurricane and a barrage of doctors’ appointments – all in a week’s “holiday” for this senior living in northern Virginia and on the coast of Maine.

    Amidst the wobbly joints, and patches of old, sun-baked, skin spots needing to be zapped to ward off skin cancer, I was stunned to learn that my eyesight has actually improved.  I had to ask the doctor to repeat that twice. Then, when the news finally sank in, I thought, “What an extraordinary metaphor: as we grow older our life experience actually does enable us to see better.” We see new options, we see what works and what doesn’t because we have lived both. That kind of experience cannot be forced. It evolves over time and is our most valuable asset. Our challenge, if we should wish to continue working or to begin a whole new entrepreneurial career, is to convince others who may stumble over how we look at 50, 60, 70 and more years, is irrelevant because of our unique perspective wrought from all those years of living and working. The convincing cannot be done through telling. Rather it is best “told” through the sharing of that experience so others, too, without as many years under their belts can see more clearly.

  • Frolicking Whales, A 76+ Year-Old Surfer (Body not Web) and Digital Storytelling: Soup to Nuts

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    I encountered a terrific – and comprehensive – Digital Storytelling resource when I was searching for help on how to best capture an extraordinary a day at the beach. This is not just any compilation of video snippets. What began as a peaceful interlude on a beautiful Maine surfers’ beach turned into a virtual bombardment of amazing images.

    Scanning the horizon for ships, sailboats or a rogue wave or two as we are wont to do when we know our wave pounding kins’ heads are all above water, the beach chair bunch (including me) spotted a whale a few hundred yards off shore. Cruising north, he or she and kept vaulting out of the water in beautiful arcs, daring us to try and capture the image. This behemoth had an uncanny way of taunting us.

    Second stunning sighting was of a different kind of leviathan – an ancient body surfer. I say ancient because she was an 76+ year-old woman, not too sylphlike, in a day-glo green, Pucci print swim suit. She had some difficulty walking through the surf, but when she spotted a big enough wave, she turned and threw herself into the curl with a grace that made the whale look like an out-of-control beach ball.

    Unlike the aforesaid whale, who cruised out of sight as soon as it had struck its tantalizing chord, the surfer rode the waves for hours. Her cap of white hair caught in the roiling foam rendered her invisible until her day-glo self glided up on the shore.

    All of this is my long-winded way of saying how valuable I found this Digital Storytelling resource. The lengthy tutorial consists of four parts:

    1. Finding your story
    2. Telling your story
    3. Creating the piece
    4. Sharing the work

    I am fortunate because my story found me but the “telling,” visual “creating,” and “sharing” were in drastic need of help.

    This is a resource you’ll want to turn to time and time again as you strive to capture your stories, your work and, indeed, your life.

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