Tagged with " aging"
7 Jan
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Book Review: “On the Brink of Everything. Grace, Gravity and Getting Old” by Parker J. Palmer


Reviewed by Bev Scott

On the Brink of EverythingAccording to the calendar, I am “old” and most people hearing my age would agree. But I have been unwilling to consider myself “old.” As Palmer says, “Old is just another word for nothing left to lose, a time of life to take bigger risks on behalf of the common good.” I am grateful to stand where I am, with the perspective, learning and experience my life has given me. Parker J. Palmer reveals his sense of humor as he points out that he is “not given to waxing romantic about aging and dying…simply know(ing) that the first is a privilege and the second is not up for negotiation.” I value the privilege.

Yet, On the Brink… is not age-bound. The insights call to anyone who is open to self-exploration, curious about the world and hungry to learn. Palmer also offers a way to find the benefits and joys in aging rather than suffering the bitterness of loss and failure. I find so much confirmation in this small book which offers us a manifesto for engaging life with awe, gratitude, curiosity and openness. Palmer invites us in to his own courageous exploration of both his brokenness and his achievement. With that invitation he calls us to confront our selves and to learn who we are in the present.

Reading On the Brink of Everything was for me like having an intimate conversation with a wise and humble friend willing to share his insights. I highly recommend this book.

16 Aug

Seeing Clearly

Cataracts, Seeing Clearly

“I would say they are ready. I am going to refer you to the best in town. He will exam your eyes and decide.”

My optometrist, who has carefully provided eye exams each year, had warned me a few years ago that I had cataracts growing slowly, not yet ready for surgery to remove them. Now he was telling me that he thought it was time to consider cataract surgery.

Another sign of the years slipping by when I try not to notice. I talked to friends and did a little research to learn more.

What are Cataracts?

In a healthy eye, the lens is transparent and focuses the light on the retina. Over time, the lens becomes more opaque or cloudy as the lens loses its ability to let light in. Cataract surgery entails removing the cloudy lens that has grown in the eye and replace it with an artificial lens. I learn it is very common for aging eyes and reputed to be one of the easiest surgeries to have. Sources on the internet proclaim that 98% of the surgeries are completed without complications. Many I spoke with raved about the positive outcomes of resolving their vision problems and reducing their dependence on glasses.

Seeing Clearly, CataractsThat is encouraging.

I make my appointment with the recommended surgeon who is both friendly and thorough. With healthy eyes, I have several options including: simple cataract removal and continue wearing my glasses; have my astigmatism addressed; change my vision to either near-or far-sighted; or mono-vision where one lens is for distance and the other is for close work such as reading.

Making a Decision

I take time to think about my options. When I was younger, wearing contact lenses not only gave me better vision but it also supported my vanity.  When I needed to give up my contact lenses and wear glasses, they concealed some of the signs of aging on my face. Do I really care now? Am I still vain?

When I wore contact lenses I had mono-vision lenses for a period of time. It is appealing to consider not needing glasses. I am warned that there is no guarantee that I won’t need glasses either for reading small print in low light or driving at night on unfamiliar dark roads. I remember that carrying multiple pairs of glasses for different vision needs, was annoying and provided one of the advantages to one pair of glasses with progressive lenses.

The doctor also advises me that some people have trouble adjusting to their eyes seeing differently, but since my brain adjusted to mono-vision contact lenses he believes I will adjust again. I decide on mono-vision and schedule my surgeries a month apart. I am hoping I won’t have to be bothered with glasses.

The Unfortunate 2%

Just before the date for my left eye, I talk with a colleague who just had his own cataract surgery. He exclaimed, “I am part of the 2% that have complications!” His simple cataract removal resulted in cloudy vision and he was very disappointed. His story increased my anxiety but I determined to proceed.

My early morning surgery was easy with no complications and twenty-four hours later when I removed the eye patch I could read with my left eye without glasses! How exciting! And the world was clear and bright when I closed my right eye.

However, seeing in general during the ensuing month was challenging. I could read with my new left eye, but with my right eye still compromised and with glasses created for my old vision seeing distance was difficult. I muddled through seeing the world through the yellow wash of the cataract, avoiding driving and asking others to explain what was blurry at a distance. I was even more hopeful for vision without glasses.

I talked with another friend who had cataract surgery shortly after my first eye. I learn that he, too, was part of the 2 % and could only see blurry images. I was grateful for the clear result in my left eye and held hope for a similar result in the right.

Seeing Clearly, Cataract

No Complications

A month later the second surgery was also easy and without complications. When I removed the eye patch my vision was clear and bright. I could see long distance and I could read. I cheered!  But there was a reservation. I discovered intermediate distance was blurry. Seeing items on my computer screen or reading the sub-titles on television was a definite problem. The doctor had not raised that issue. I was disappointed.

I need glasses after all. It was confirmed at my final eye appointment.

But as disappointed as I am, I remember the complications experienced by my friends. I am grateful for my clear sight and improved vision. I will need glasses for computer work and watching television but I have improved my vision. And my appearance with or without glasses no longer matters. I am happy.


17 Jul
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Book Review: “Essential Retirement Planning for Solo Agers” by Sara Zeff Geber


Reviewed by Bev Scott

Book Review by Bev Scott, bevscott.comThis book is introduced by the gerontologist Harry “Rick” Moody, who reminds us all that we are all “solo agers” if we live long enough.  He says, “Successful Solo Agers have learned how to age alone and they have lessons we all need to learn.”

Sara Zeff Geber provides the guide book for that learning.  She covers the preparation needed to enjoy the second half of life, deciding how and where to live and ensuring care in one’s oldest age.  The information she covers is essential for aging as singles, married couples with or without children.  It is a rich resource and one all of us will use as reference as we ambivalently approach the tasks of preparing and making decisions for retirement.  Utilizing the worksheets and thoughtfully answering the questions can help us discover what will give us joy and fulfillment as well as care, comfort and financial security.

24 Jan

Am I an Elder?

Halong Bay, Bev Scott Author













“I can say from my own experience that at a certain point people will begin to treat you as an elder and look for benefits that you may be able to give them.

That is your cue to make a shift. You are no longer part of the crowd. Now you have to step up and assume a new place in your community. For you, it is yet another rite of passage, an ascension of state and transformation of you and your life to a level where you can enjoy new pleasures and feel new obligations…

That act requires character and the ability to know yourself without falling into either too high an opinion of yourself or false humility. Normally you develop this capacity for honest leadership over many years. The apprenticeship for the elder begins very young and continues over a lifetime.”

Thomas Moore, in a Nov./Dec. 2017 article in Spirituality and Health Magazine adapted from his Ageless Soul: The Lifelong Journey Toward Meaning and Joy 

As I prepared for my first trip to Asia, I had the feeling that I was transitioning to a new segment of my life.

I traveled last month with my daughter and grandsons to a new part of the world for me. It was a special joy to be with them and I loved learning about the people and cultures that we visited. In addition, travel often provides opportunities to learn about ourselves and this trip was no exception.

Bev Scott and Family, Rickshaws, in Asia 2017 Happy Birthday, Bev Scott, 2017, in Asia

I was treated as an elder, as Moore suggests, by many we met and by my daughter and grandsons. In addition, traveling with much younger and stronger companions forced me to face the realities of an aging body. I no longer have the energy, stamina, quick recovery or balance that I have counted on most of my life. I have learned that I need to rest more, calibrate my planned itinerary and keep a watchful eye on the path for those items that might trip me. I need to more carefully monitor my food and water intake.

Yet, in contrast to my younger self who often pushed herself too hard and ended up sick in bed, I maintained my health and energy after long flights, days spent walking and exploring the sites, museums and markets and eating different and unusual food.

Transition Time

I came home ready to explore this feeling that I am at another transition time in my life.

Bev Scott at Word Project Press event, Oct. 2017When I turned 70, I realized that I needed to let go of my consulting and coaching work if I wanted to write the book about my grandparents. I wrote about this decision in an article included in the book, 70 Things to Do When You Turn 70. Now, after Sarah’s Secret has been out for a year and I have worked on promoting it by selecting those activities that served my interests and skills, I find I am casting about for what is next. I don’t plan to stop the work of book promotion, reading, or writing reviews and my blog. But, I am not strongly motivated to write another book, although all the experts recommend that is the way to proceed. There are many other activities that reward and challenge me, light up my spirit and warm my heart.

Who I Am as an Elder?

Yes, I am exploring what I want to do, but I am also reflecting on who I am as an elder at this point in my life.

I have thought of myself as twenty or thirty years younger until I look in the mirror. The image that looks back tells me that I am no longer in the same body. The hair is graying, the face has wrinkles and my body sags in places. But that appearance is no longer so important. I realize that the qualities of my character matter more to me now. I feel more confident and self-aware. I appreciate the lessons learned over my life-time from experience, the insight and, yes, the wisdom. I hope I am neither too arrogant nor falsely humble about my accomplishments. I am grateful for the abundance the Universe has shared with me and I continue to make a contribution back to the world using my skills, energy and resources. I value my spiritual practice, my exercise routine, my health and the special relationships I have with my partner, my daughter and grandsons and my friends.

I am, as Moore suggests, stepping away from the crowd and transitioning to a new stage in my life. I don’t know how much time I have left. But I find that I am thinking more about the finite amount of time life gives us. Whatever that time is for me, I want to spend it with those I love, continue to do the best I can with whatever I commit to do and find opportunities for learning both about myself and about subjects that interest me.

What are your thoughts about this transition to elderhood and your aging process?

16 Nov
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Book Review: “Energize Your Retirement” by Christine Sparacino

Energize Your RetirementReviewed by Bev Scott

Christine Sparacino has provided an invaluable resource for the multitudes of boomers who are entering their retirement years.  The literature and the research on happy, satisfying and productive senior years endorse the importance of active engagement in a passionate pursuit for a longer and healthier life. In Energize Your Retirement, Sparacino has collected stories of passionate pursuits generously augmented with the detailed information and resources to help readers determine if a pursuit is right for them.   Anyone thinking about “what will I do when I retire?” should read this book.

Sparacino has grouped her interviews into five sections which organize the book :  Animals and Nature, Arts and Letters, Civic and Social Participation, Mechanics and Technology and Physical Activity and Sports.  Animals and Nature include chapters on Astronomy, Bird Watching, Habitat Restoration, Mushroom Hunting, Service Dog Training and Beekeeping.  In the chapter on “Beekeeper,” Sparacino offers fascinating information such as the history of bringing honeybees to the American colonies as early as 1622.  Practical information also guides the potential beekeeper from zoning regulations, to how much time and money is involved.  The beekeeper himself describes how he got started and what rewards he gains from this passionate pursuit.  At the end of every chapter is an extensive list of resources to assist the  interested retiree explore the pursuit.

In the Arts and Letters section, the author introduces a magician who learned magic to liven up his office presentations and carried his passion into retirement.  The magician also shares information about how to learn magic, organizations to join and what makes a good magician.  Sparacino shares interesting background information about the relationship of magic and psychology.  Each chapter also includes a Fascinating Facts list about the chapter’s topic.  Did you know that that Harry Houdini could pick up pins with eyelashes and thread a needle with his toes?  Other chapters in this section include Calligraphy, Crossword Puzzles, Arts Usher, Fiction Writer and Stone Sculptor.

I knew the term “ombudsman” was Swedish defined as “one who cares for another, a citizen representative or advocate”.  But, I didn’t know that the Swedish Parliament established the first independent ombudsman in 1809.  You will find many such interesting tidbits in each of the chapters in the book.  The Ombudsman chapter introduces a volunteer who is an ombudsman for elder care.  Even if you are not interested in volunteering in this pursuit, you can learn a very helpful approach to figuring out what you want to do next after leaving your job or career.  This volunteer ombudsman describes the training and certification she is required to take, what she does during a visit and how she works as an advocate with both sides of an issue.  Believing that little things can make a big difference, this volunteer feels rewarded when she listens and feels trusted by both the elder and his or her family.  Other chapters in this section on Civic and Social Participation include Disaster-Response worker, Medicare Counselor, National Park Volunteer, Nonprofit Board Director and Youth Mentor.

Space and tools are required to be a wood turner, one of the pursuits described in the section called Mechanics and Technology.  A life-long interest led this retiree to prepare space on his property for woodworking, but he was really hooked after taking a class on woodturning before he actually retired.  This chapter describes the basic tools needed, organizations to join and how to actually make a wooden bowl.   The resources section lists websites, videos and classes to help the potential wood turner get started.  If you are not interested in wood turning but would like to pursue something else a bit unusual or even common, you can read about Blogging, Home Brewing Beer,  Operating a Ham Radio, Motorcycling, or RV Traveling.

The last section, Physical Activity and Sports offers stories from a Backpacker, Dancer, Softball Player, Target Shooter and a Triathlete.  The Target Shooter will keep all of us from making stereotypical assumptions.  A self-proclaimed workaholic and a vice president from a Fortune 100 company who retired at fifty five and with her husband took up target shooting.  She is now certified as a pistol and rifle instructor.  Sparacino gives us some interesting historical background of shooting competition in the US and in the Olympic Games.  The story provides a breadth of information about this hobby from expenses, to clothes and equipment and training required.  The story teller wants to let readers know that “target shooting is not about politics” but that it is a fun sport and an individual choice.

As the founder and creator of the positive aging program, “The 3rd Act”, I recommend this book as a “must have” resource for any boomers thinking about retirement.  Even if your interests are not covered in this book, you will undoubtedly learn about approaches, resources and  rewards that will help you in choosing your passionate pursuit in retirement.

I received this book from the author in an exchange for an honest review.

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