Do You Have a Sense of Community?


Are you wondering what it means to have a sense of community?  Actually, there are many ways to interpret it. Among them are:

  • Do you feel part of a community anywhere, e.g. where you live, go to church, belong to an organization, part of an extended family, etc?
  • Are you able to pick up the phone and casually contact another member of your community (ies)?
  • Do you contribute to a community, whether it be nearby or far away?
  • Are you seriously interested in the members of your community and are you there to help them out when they are in trouble?
  • Do you believe that working in a community with others can be more important than doing it all yourself for a greater gain?
  • Have you chosen a community where you can best utilize your talents for doing your part, i.e., writing, drawing, being a part of a committee?
  • Do you actually participate in the communities to which you belong? What is your role there? How do you see yourself as helping others through your community?
  • Do you believe in paying it forward?
  • Do you actually have a sense of community where you can feel that you are serving others without seeking any reward?

As I said earlier, there are several ways of looking at communities, and I have just begun to cover them. One of the great things about belonging somewhere is that you hopefully form camaraderie with others. Another is that you help others through the community and that you experience satisfaction when doing this.  A study sponsored by NIH searched for definitions of community with the following as the most prevalent among the group asked:  “A common definition of community emerged as a group of people with diverse characteristics who are linked by social ties, share common perspectives, and engage in joint action in geographical locations or settings.”

 

Family Reunions

Seeking community through the family is primary with many of us for several reasons:  Our families are getting smaller these days, and many of us are getting older and older.  We yearn for connection but don’t quite achieve it.  Some of us dislike attending family reunions–communities where we should fit right in–for the following reasons:

  • We fear being compared to the rest of our family.
  • We see ourselves either in the higher or the lower end of the success spectrum and may be uncomfortable in either.
  • Are we reluctant to talk about certain issues because we don’t want to offend even our own relatives.
  • Often we experience rejection from our own family members.
  • Some of us get angry because the majority of attendees appear to be there for the lunch alone, not to mention all the take out they can muster.
  • There is no real attempt to extend the family’s history in writing or in pictures for future generations.

For the most part, everything I just wrote about family reunions can be substituted for many forms of community. There are some differences which include traveling long distances, which most people are reluctant to do unless there is enough incentive to do so.

“A good way to learn to love our relatives is to spend time together in well-planned family reunions. A family reunion can be a very personal and privileged gathering. If you have never organized your family for a reunion, start now—you will receive joy far beyond your expectations. Yes, there will be discouragements. Some family members will say they don’t have time or that they are too busy. But the rewards more than compensate for the discouragements.” -Alma Heaton

On a more positive note, people tend to enjoy family reunions when

  1. Family histories are maintained with updates being published regularly.
  2. Families collect money for a scholarship fund for other family members.
  3. The reunion consists of a weekend retreat that includes room and board and/or camping, making it easier for people to actually visit longer.  Some families actually take trips together.
  4. The event is special enough to prepare memorabilia such as tee shirts generated from a design contest, with committees for selection, selling, and delivery at or before the event?
  5. Families publish a newsletter, either printed and mailed or published online, which includes recent accomplishments, births, deaths, announcements of things to come, etc.

Why not attend and offer your ideas for an improved family reunion.try to change the things you don’t like or change the way you feel about things.  Ask other family members for their help.  There are websites with other suggestions for family reunions, tee shirt design, and tee shirt sales.

The Power of Community

The power of community to create health is far greater than any physician, clinic or hospital. Mark Hyman

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According to the authors of The Search for Meaning,                                                                  

“Real communities are concerned with being–not having. Their members are into sharing, caring, and loving rather than owning, manipulating, controlling, and possessing. Open communication and commitment to the shared values and common purposes of individual members are of critical importance to the stability of a community. Community survival depends heavily on the ability of members to extend themselves to other members.”

I can best illustrate this by using Gandhi as an example, as told by Gloria Steinem in Revolution From Within. After describing his failed attempts to become an aristocratic Englishman while studying to be a barrister, Steinem states that it was “as if his failures had been the signals of a true self.” Upon receiving his law degree, he returned to India, but life did not go well there. His law activities did not flourish and he took an assignment in South Africa, where he became successful as a lawyer and a negotiator but was mistreated due to his color. Rather than trying to be something he was not, he decided to become the man he was born–an Indian–and dressed in Indian clothing.  Eventually, he eventually returned to India at the age of 44, where he worked for and with his people and later led his country into a peaceful revolution.

We can learn many lessons from Gandhi, and below are just a few. We should approach everything we attempt as a means of

  • Understanding ourselves better.
  • Finding our true self.
  • Learning what to do and what not to do in becoming successful.
  • Being comfortable with who we are.
  • Striving to come out as winners in the sense of having helped others.

Gandhi started out as a “having” person, wanting the education, the power, and the envy of others. He eventually found that being the person he was would create a role never before played that would earn him a place in history.

Summary

As shown above, there are all sorts of ways to participate in community activities, regardless of the type.  The important thing to remember is that you are there to serve your community for the good of the community. What are your goals?  Please tell us about your community efforts and the satisfaction you derive from them in the Comments section below.  If you have ideas for a community, ask for help with those.  Working together for common goals can be life changing.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Why is Feeling Good About Yourself Important?

 

Recently, I returned from a trip to Gatlinburg, TN, where I kept running into groups of older, smiling men and women, most of whom were there to attend a Jubilee that included such notables as the Collingsworth Family and the Goodman group. Just hearing and seeing these participants’ passion for the music was an inspiration and an eye-opener. Many were in wheelchairs or used a cane, and some were bent over with back problems, but they did not let their ailments,  their ages, or their pain prevent them from enjoying themselves.

These attendees were obviously feeling good about themselves and life in general. I was impressed that at least 6,000 attendees had registered for this three-day event (9/18-20/2017), and those I spoke with said they had been coming for years! They had something to look forward to every year and they anticipated a future. When people with similar passions get together to have a good time, they are not only enriching their lives, they enrich others’ lives, and they are serving as role models for others longing for things to do.

Every new adjustment is a crisis in self-esteem. Eric Hoffer
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So why is feeling good about yourself so important in any stage of life but most particularly in the latter stages? It is a definite plus for enjoying what you do and extending your life.  If you are not happy with yourself and you want to make some changes, it helps to have friends in your life.  Many things contribute to having fewer friends as you get older, with the most obvious one being that our friends die. Also, having worked takes a toll on many who had to commute long distances, had families to care for, and just did not have the time to engage with friends. Let’s face it, whatever the reason, having a good time for many is a hard goal to attain. We are reluctant to reach out to others for fun or to provide service. How we feel about ourselves makes all the difference in the way we approach new people and situations.  Too often, women sell themselves short, thinking that they will not be received well by others.  Let me tell you that about 90% of us feel this way to some extent at any stage of life.

So, how do we improve our self-perceptions?

Consider those talents and hobbies you have.  These are things that you enjoy and that you can share with others. Consider your achievements in life, how you felt when they occurred, and how you might apply them today.  Wow!  All of sudden you realize you are not so unworthy after all.

What is it about you that makes you a valuable woman in your eyes?  Is it your education, your values, your attitude, your experiences, or your appearance.  All of us have been successful in many ways.  Remember yours. Write them down if you have to, and ask the following:

  • Do you experience cultural activities?
  • How do you spend money?
  • How do you treat people?
  • Do you have a problem with establishing and maintaining boundaries?
  • Are you helpful to others?
  • Do you belong to an organization that provides community service?
  • How do you care for your home?
  • How do you respond to criticism or negative comments?

You get the picture.  Everything you do, say, think and how you look, behave, and feel all go into who you are.  If you believe you are failing in an area, work on it until you feel more comfortable about yourself.  It takes courage to feel better about yourself, courage to do things differently, and courage to admit to yourself that there are aspects of yourself you just don’t like. As Gloria Steinem said in Revolution From Within,

“…there is a healthier self within each of us, just waiting for encouragement.”

 

 

why is feeling good about yourself importantAre You Willing to Take the Risks?

Remember those times when you stepped out of your protective shell and chose a different way to react to a situation?  That involved taking a risk.  Life is risky. Remember your first recital, first date, first prom, first day at college, getting married, and having a baby?  You have to take “risking it” further in improving things about your self you want to change:  One of the most important issues with most women is that of establishing boundaries with those in our lives.  This takes lots of practice. We have to learn different ways to say no to those who impose on us, abuse us, and want it their way.  They actually convince us that we are their only way out.  Some go so far as to accuse us of not wanting to help, being selfish, and not caring about them.

Sarah Breathnach said it best in Something More in describing our loathing thoughts about ourselves when

“…capitulating to the needs of others by disavowing our own; for ignoring the careless cruelties of loved ones in order to keep the peace; for struggling to live up to the expectations of people we don’t even care about; …”  

Somehow we have learned to think that we have to be the “better” person by succumbing to the needs and wants of others.  We have to learn how to draw the line between the genuine needs and selfish wants of others.

The techniques for dealing with difficult people are well described in Dr. Wayne Dyer’s book, Pulling Your Own Strings, which confirms that we have always been in control of our own destiny.  We have to take responsibility for allowing others to mistreat us by taking action to avoid being the victim.

Either pull your own strings and enjoy being in charge of your brief life here on Earth, or let others do it and spend your life being upset and controlled by the victimizers of the world. 
Wayne Dyer 

Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend wrote a series of books that help you take action towards those who take advantage. Their book Boundaries offers typical situations that disturb us and provides ways of dealing with them.  A considerable portion of the book deals with the origins of the poor behaviors, our inability to establish boundaries, the development of acceptable boundaries, and the consequences of allowing people to run over us.

“Every woman that finally figured out her worth, has picked up her suitcases of pride and boarded a flight to freedom, which landed in the valley of change.” 
― Shannon L. Alder

 

Summary

Standing up for yourself is empowering and leads to becoming the person you want to be.  When we are happy with ourselves, we love ourselves.  When we love ourselves, we always put our best foot forward, even when that means we protect ourselves from those who use us or establish conditions to their treatment of us.

 

Please use the Comments section below to voice your opinions, any questions you are struggling with, and to ask help from others.  I like to hear what part of this post you liked the best.  Thanks.

 

 

 

How to Find Your Purpose, Your Passion, Your Meaning in Life

Purpose

Most of us believe that we were born with a purpose in life. We may not have found it yet or we might have abandoned previous ones in search of others.  As previously discussed, we have proceeded through life with working, marriage, having children, and enjoying life.  These things gave us most of what we needed at the time, but they have likely changed considerably. I believe that our purposes then served us well and provided a gateway to finding our purpose, passion, and meaning now.  In other words, our purpose today has even greater meaning for us because we achieved our purpose of yesterday with passion and love.

Protected by their Mother

 

 

We can Soar Like the Eagle!
Majestic and Compassionate

“Only when one can love like the eagle–with no audience whatsoever–can one turn to another in love:  only then is one able to care about the enlargement of the other’s being.”  Irvin D. Yalom in When Nietzsche Wept

 

 

 

“The will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.” M. Scott Peck in The Road Less Traveled

 

“Your life purpose is about you. It is a tangible, practical, everyday way to be that evolves over time as you mature. It is not just a new age, cheesy, flaky, peace and love statement. It is the greatness of who you are taking meaningful action. This is how you stay healthy and happy. Then and only then does your energy ripple out to make the world a better place.”
Diana Dentinger, Modus Vivendi: Your Life Your Way

 

Passion

We come alive when we are doing what feels right for us.  The important thing is to do it, don’t just think about what might be.  Find your purpose, your passion, your meaning in life by looking for it.  If you believe that you have found it, put it to a test of how you really feel about it and what you are doing with it.  Be the person you have always wanted to be.  The following quotes provide insight into what passion is all about. They come from Inc.com. There are more on the website.

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Howard Thurman

“A successful life is one that is lived through understanding and pursuing one’s own path, not chasing after the dreams of others.” Chin-Ning Chu

“There is no passion to be found in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” Nelson Mandela

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” George Eliot

“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.” Les Brown

“The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.” Ferdinand Foch

I have had a number of passions in my lifetime, and to each, I feverishly gave my time and my love. I love scrapbooking and have since my grandmother Annie got me started. Scrapbooks create records of history for generations to come. But, somehow, my working and other activities got in the way and I put it aside. I later learned that I could still work and get passionate about something–that was going back to school for a master’s degree. Let me tell you that I was on Cloud 9 the day I learned of my acceptance. Being a part-time student, it took me four years, but I finally graduated at the age of 70. Scrapbooking is calling me once again!

I also love gardening. A wonderful friend of mine, Gladys, taught me a lot about gardening, and I became passionate enough about that to take a number of undergraduate college courses in horticulture and to put to work in my own yard what I had learned. I even went so far as to get special permission to take those courses because I lacked the necessary academic qualifications–a study of botany was missing from my academic background.  Seeing the results of your labor in gardening is encouraging, satisfying, and so meaningful. For me, it’s a different type of passion now but is still something I enjoy.

“Believe in yourself. You are braver than you think, more talented than you know, and capable of more than you imagine.”
Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

But so is writing this post and attempting to influence those of you who feel like something is still missing, even when you think you have done it all. Believe me, there is still a lot more out there to do. You have to find yours. You may have to invent it, risk it, and share it with others. I have noted through life that many ideas I had and did not act on were eventually discovered by others. There are many things we like to do that we are not necessarily passionate about, so how do we determine what we are passionate about.

  • List those things you really like to do and that you believe you are good at.
  • Which of those things do you like to talk to others about and learn more about from others?
  • Is anything going on in life–politics, the homeless, the rudeness and disregard by people we run into in traffic, drug and sex trafficking–that really affects you to the point that you want to do something about it? Find some avenue of bringing solutions to the forefront.  Examples: Form grassroots organizations to enlist help, write articles for magazines, run for public office, participate in campaigns to help candidates you believe in, be creative and find your own way to deliver your message, etc.  Think about it.  “What can I do to get involved in the prevention of or cure for this terrible situation?”

 

 

Meaning

It’s hard to find a definition of meaning in the sense that I write about, but I assure you that all you have to do is Google it, and you will discover that looking for or finding the meaning in your life is a reality. One way to look at meaning at this stage of your life (55 and older) is to understand that staying busy with your family, your job, and other responsibilities just might have kept you so occupied you really believed that was all there was to life. Hopefully, you will now find time to work on some new goals–to reach for purpose, passion, and meaning.

 

A Great Dance Move!
Part of Martha’s Choreography

 

 

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.”  Martha Graham

 

Martha Graham was a dancer and choreographer who formed her own dance company, won many awards, taught others, and worked for more than 70 years. What an inspiration she has been and will continue to be for those who wish to follow in her footsteps and for those looking for a creative outlet. Do we have to be that good and that famous? No, but we have to follow through by finding our own creative activity.

If you do not have a creative outlet in your life, you would find it helpful to search for one. Look for something you can get absorbed in whether it be cooking, gardening, drawing, tinkering with small engines, genealogy, etc. It is most likely in the back of your mind and only needs to come forward–something you once thought you would like to do. One clue is your most favorite subject for talking about. Learning how and doing it exceptionally well is some indication of its importance to you.

Sharing it can be even more important.  For example, if it turns out to be scrappin’ (scrapbooking), share it with someone or a group in a nursing home.  I bet many of those residents are sitting there with bunches of pictures just waiting to be organized.  If you can’t afford it, enlist the aid of the home to find a source of creative supplies.  If you quilt, think about forming a quilting club where you can learn from and support each other.  From there it can turn into a mission for helping still others–long-term hospital patients who might need a visit from someone who wants to find a home for a quilt.  Are you getting an idea of how a hobby can turn into something bigger than you?  In the comments section below, share your thoughts about it.  Also, use the comments section to ask others what they think and where they are with coming alive.

Dr. Roger Landry writes, “If an activity is meaningful to you it will provide you with the continual engagement in life necessary to age successfully.  This is another meaning of being authentic.”  What does he mean by continual engagement? It is communion with nature, with people close to you and those you have not met, and with what feels like all of life.  It is something bigger than you are.

Satisfying engagement is a key to feeling good about yourself.  It represents reaching out rather than withdrawing.  It helps you to extend yourself for the benefit of yourself and for others, and when you have a message that you believe in, that you want to share, and that shows you care, you have to find a way to get it out there.

Dr. Leslie Becker-Phelps says, “The meaningful life occurs when we feel connected with something bigger than ourselves, such as our community or our religion. By applying our signature strengths to this effort, we feel engaged and find happiness that transcends our individual selves.”

In Conclusion

Life is a continuing journey.  Getting older should give you no reason to stop doing things.  It only gives pause to how you accomplish something.  Use your common sense.  Don’t overload yourself.  And most of all have fun.

I hope this article inspires you to get moving in the right direction, to feel better about yourself, and to live for yourself and others.  If so, please leave me a comment below.  If not, I would love a comment about improving it!

Finding the Purpose in Your Life for Successful Aging

While we are living in the present, we must celebrate life every day, knowing that we are becoming history with every work, every action, every deed. Mattie Stepanek

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Mattie Stepanek

For those of you who did not meet him, Mattie Stepanek, author of the above quote, was one of four siblings born with a rare form of muscular dystrophy. His mother was diagnosed with a form of the same illness after having given birth to her children. Miraculously, Mattie lived to be almost 14, while his three siblings died at much younger ages. Mattie was extremely intelligent and was writing poetry at age three, later publishing several books of poetry, most of which were on the NY Times Best Seller List. They can be purchased through his foundation’s website and elsewhere. Through his books, Mattie wrote about peace, love, his family, the death of his siblings, and mankind. He was passionate about sharing his thoughts and feelings–his heartsongs–with others. He appeared on Oprah and on Larry King Live with Jerry Lewis, well known for his muscular dystrophy telethons, and he captured the hearts of all who watched. There is no doubt in my mind that Mattie lived to be 13 because he was passionate about living the best life he could and sharing it with the world.

“It does not matter how long you are spending on the earth, how much money you have gathered or how much attention you have received. It is the amount of positive vibration you have radiated in life that matters,”

Amit Ray, Meditation: Insights and Inspirations

What happened to us?

As younger women, we had a sense of purpose almost forced on us: We either went to college, went to work, or got married and rarely did we think we had a choice. Graduating from college certainly offered greater choices and those women who expressed a mission with this choice had their sense of purpose and followed through.  

 

The second option–working–afforded us the opportunity to learn and to go as far as we could, but eventually, we married and soon found ourselves combining work with housekeeping, child rearing, children’s extracurricular activities, etc. Women that chose work learned they could support themselves eventually without relying on someone else, and this should have given them a sense of freedom and creativity and the knowledge that they could accomplish feats they would never have expected of themselves. So, what did we do with that feeling of freedom?

 

As for the last choice, marriage, it was the most chosen of all. After all, we could avoid college and work, at least for a while. Many of us were socialized to get married early, while others actually thought we wanted to get married. And we got married for various reasons. Some saw marriage as their only way out of the situations they were caught up in. For others, it was a matter of convenience, a way to save money, or a means to provide a more stable environment for children.

Oh, we had choices but were afraid to attempt them. That might have meant digging a hole one could not escape from or worrying about what people would think. Eventually, we learned to admire these risk takers–the ones who were able to break away from traditional norms. Among other things, they found “flower power”, Woodstock, the Vietnam War and the protests it generated, and the continuation of the Beat movement, not to mention the feminists’ movement. We wondered where they were going to wind up. I think they felt very good about themselves for having taken stands about subjects considered tabu. They, too, experienced some sense of purpose and a sense of adventure.  Let’s face it, deep                                                                                    down, we really did envy them!

Trust me, we all had a sense of direction, but was it all that satisfying? Was it the same as having meaning in our life? For many, it was, but most of us found that we craved something else. We were suffocating in our duties of cleaning, working outside the home, carpooling, seeing to it that our children got the attention they deserved, and yes, we wondered, “Is this all there is.”

A heartsong doesn’t have to be a song in your heart. It doesn’t have to be talking about love and peace. It can just be your message. It can be your feeling. Some people might even call it a conscience, even though that’s not really what it is. It’s your message, what you feel like you need to do. Mattie Stepanek

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Reviewing your life

When you review your life and the things you did right, you will see these were so many of them! And those accomplishments hopefully serve as reminders that you can continue to achieve. It is never too late for something else, something new and alive in your life, even if you think you have done it all. Having a renewed sense of purpose means:

  • being there for your important new self
  • elevating yourself to a position of being able to help others without expecting something in return
  • having something to do to feel passionate about
  • never running out of something to talk about
  • having the ability to slough off the distasteful events in your life and move forward
  • jumping up out of bed every day with enthusiasm

Yes, I know getting up is hard if you have arthritis, depression, or other problems that impede you. But, in remembering the accomplishments of Mattie, he never complained nor should I of feeling bad. In addition, I am the world’s worst at revisiting the bad treatment I have received or delivered throughout my life. But this kind of thinking imprisons us, making it difficult for change to take place. As Wayne Dyer points out in his book Pulling Your Own Strings, “You do have the capacity to make healthy choices for yourself by changing your attitude to one of creative aliveness.”

“I don’t want it to end, and so, as every therapist knows, the ego does not want an end to its “problems” because they are part of its identity. If no one will listen to my sad story, I can tell it to myself in my head, over and over, and feel sorry for myself, and so have an identity as someone who is being treated unfairly by life or other people, fate or God. It gives definition to my self-image, makes me into someone, and that is all that matters to the ego.”

Eckhart Tolle

Find your purpose, your meaning, your passion

And as you have probably discovered, one of the major themes in this website is to keep your life moving in positive directions. Don’t rest on your laurels. Think of retirement as a greater opportunity to find and live your passions, to be successful in your aging. There are statistics that show having a purpose in life greatly improves the likelihood of having a healthier life and an extended one!

 

 

 

 

 

What About Fitness for Older Women

Fitness for older women is available, affordable, and absolutely necessary!

Most of us need to improve our fitness with some type of exercise regimen. Fitness for older women and men is recommended by insurance companies, who make great forms of exercise available free of charge through Medicare Advantage Plans. Let’s face it. If an insurance company is encouraging you to exercise and is willing to pay for it, you know they are expecting huge returns on their investment. You certainly will be a whole lot healthier, will resist all kinds of stuff going around, and will be happier to be around.  Above all else, you can add years onto your life expectancy.

 

If you have led a sedentary life, including having had an office job where sitting was the standard, without having experienced some routine exercises or sports, you definitely need to find a way to make fitness a normal part of your routine. Even those confined to a wheelchair will find that exercising will improve their body strength and health overall.

Companies offering the Silver Sneakers program include:

  • Humana
  • Aetna
  • Florida Blue
  • Wellcare
  • United Healthcare

To get information for those insurance companies in your area, complete the zip code box on the form provided in an online article.

I have spoken before about the one I have chosen–Curves–and they also provide a variety of specialized classes including Body Sculpting, Yoga, Body Balance, Cardio, and Zumba! Isn’t that awesome?

In addition to Curves, there are eight other locations in my area that provide a Silver Sneakers program, including two YWCA s and Heartland Rehabs. To find out who and how many are in your area and where they are located, please click on Silver Sneakers.

If I don’t feel confident about my body, I’m not going to sit at home and feel sorry for myself and not do something about it. It’s all about taking action and not being lazy. So you do the work, whether it’s fitness or whatever. It’s about getting up, motivating yourself and just doing it. Kim Kardashian

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Other Government-Sponsored Programs

Fitness for the older population is also recommended by government agencies, such as the Center for Disease Control and the National Institute on Aging which is part of the National Institutes of Health, but I don’t have to provide statistics to substantiate that those who can exercise should be doing it on a regular basis. The government, too, is expecting great financial benefits from improving the overall health of the aging population. In FY2016, 28% of federal spending went for health care.

Count yourself extremely fortunate if you have the ability to participate, and if you have any doubts at all, you need to ask your doctor. For those who do not currently have access to the Silver Sneakers programs, there are government programs available that make it easy for you to get started. September is a targeted month for the Go4Life group who has a special program with incentives available. Not only do they provide a large list of exercises, they also demonstrate each exercise both visually and verbally. This organization also offers many other opportunities for growth.

Exercise to stimulate, not to annihilate. The world wasn’t formed in a day, and neither were we. Set small goals and build upon them. Lee Haney

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If you have had little or no exercise, proceed slowly and carefully. Address the issue with your doctor to make sure that what you are doing is appropriate for your situation. It is essential that you do not overdo it, as that can and will cause harm and make it difficult to continue to exercise. Remember that improving your fitness will improve the way you think about yourself by giving you a sense of accomplishment. Further, you will appreciate an improved ability to think clearer, positive changes in your cholesterol, increased agility, and possible weight loss.

Walk, Walk, and Walk

Few people know how to take a walk. The qualifications are endurance, plain clothes, old shoes, an eye for nature, good humor, vast curiosity, good speech, good silence and nothing too much.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you do nothing else, please start walking, building up to at least three times a week for 30 minutes each walk.  You will have achieved a good milestone, but plan to go further. The really important thing to remember here is that you need to get started, setting goals for how often and how long, staying motivated to continue and finding yourself not wanting to stop. Trust me, you will not want to stop and if you have to for some brief period, start all over again when it is safe to do so.  Enjoy the new you!
 

 

 

 

What is the Value of Friendship in Successful Aging

“Your truest friends are the ones who will stand by you in your darkest moments–because they’re willing to brave the shadows with you–and in your greatest moments–because they’re not afraid to let you shine.” ― Nicole Yatsonsky

Having a friendship is one of the keys to graceful and successful aging.

Aging often brings a loss of close friendships. Unfortunately, the older we get, the more likely we are to lose our friends through death or through disease that has forced them into assisted living or nursing homes. It is also probable that we will lose our husbands. And some would consider him as their best friend. According to the Centers for Disease Control, life expectancy for men living at age 65 in 2015 was an additional 18 years and for women 20.6 years. That means women who were 65 in 2015 can expect to live on the average until they are 85.6 years old. For those still living at age 75, men could expect to live another 11.2 years, while women might expect an additional 13 years.

 

In married couples, according to the Census Bureau, more men die before their wives than vice versa, leaving their wives alone for the first time in many years and facing having to do a lot of things they were not accustomed to. This percentage of men dying earlier increases as the couple ages.

If their widows were able to maintain close friendships with other women throughout their marriage, they no doubt will find them to be particularly rewarding at this time in their lives. They will also want to continue to make new relationships.

If they never learned the value of friendship, were reluctant to make friends, or if they maintained relationships only with family members or their husbands, they might discover loneliness and suffer depression. They may long for friendship.

This is not to say that single women do not experience problems also.  Many lose their friends by death.  Many retire and realize they should have made more time for friends.  And many discover, perhaps for the first time, what it would have meant to have more friends in their lives. It is not too late ladies!

 

Friends having a lunch outing!

So, why all of this bother about making new friendships?

It’s easy to make excuses about not wanting to make the effort. “I’m not going to be around for long.” “I don’t know how to make friends.” “Who is going to want to be my friend. I am boring to be around.” Trust me, there are some very good reasons why you want to have friendships with other women.

Interestingly, studies have gathered considerable information about the importance of having friends. One such study did a sweeping review of data from over 308,000 people involved in 148 research studies. The authors’ conclusions revealed a 50% improvement in their chances for surviving longer for those who maintained friendships.

A second study revealed that older people with close friendships actually live longer, and the more friendships they had, the longer they lived. Surprisingly, having relationships with their children or other relatives did not offer the same reward. This work was accomplished in Australia with more than 1400 participants over 70 who were followed for seven years.

 

True happiness arises, in the first place, from the enjoyment of one’s self, and in the next, from the friendship and conversation of a few select companions.Joseph Addison

 

Back to the true value of friendship in successful aging.

Isn’t the above information something we just kind of knew all along? It is like a lot of other stuff that happens in life. It was just waiting to be supported by science!

Let’s attempt to define what true friendship means to us. To some, it means having someone to share with, someone who will listen without being judgmental. Additionally, the value of having a friendship is giving and receiving love at a different level, feeling that euphoria that comes with special relationships. It is being there when you are needed, as well as accepting needed help. It is having someone to catch a movie with.

True friendship has few expectations. Going back to Kennedy’s days and his “Ask not what your country can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your country,” it is clear that he was reminding Americans that our friendships result from our being willing to go out of our way for others and our freedoms came at a cost of many friendships. This country would not have moved as far as it has without the early settlers and those that followed helping each other out.

Working together for resolutions!And so it is in other countries.  Friendship is something we can see as an opportunity to do something for someone without having to be on the receiving end.

I will be writing other articles on the value of friendships and how we benefit from forming the right kinds of friendships.

There are all kinds of healthy ways to look at friendships.  Please share yours in the comments section below. Also, I would like to hear what your opinions are on things I omitted from this article.  Thanks and be well!