Saturday, April 16, 2016

Book Review: Disrupt Aging

If you’re not feeling good about your latest birthday, read Disrupt Aging: A Bold New Path to Living Your Best Life at Every Age by Jo Ann Jenkins, CEO of AARP, with Boe Workman. According to Jenkins, society’s picture of aging is out of sync with reality. While the media, advertisers and popular culture stress maintaining youth, we need to embrace our age with pride.

Jenkins offers inspirational examples: There’s Doreetha Daniels, who earned an associate degree at 99. There’s Ernestine Shepherd, a bodybuilder, who became “determined, dedicated and disciplined to be fit” at age 56. She is now going strong at 79.  Jenkins writes, “Owning our age opens up new possibilities for leading more purposeful and fulfilling lives as we get older. . . . We can discover the real possibilities life has to offer.” And what we offer as the over 50s is “untapped wisdom, talent, and experience to solve our nation’s problems and make this world a better place.”

What the older generation needs to do, according to Jenkins, is shift the emphasis from physical and mental diminishment to physical and mental fitness. From focusing on treatment to focusing on disease prevention, health promotion and well being. She offers strategies for brain health and lists the best cities for successful aging, cities that include safe, affordable, convenient environments with opportunities for work and access to transportation. She suggests options for living for those who can no longer manage independently.

As older workers, we offer more pluses than negatives. With adaptations for our physical conditions (for instance, allowing chairs instead of being forced to stand) we can continue as productive workers. Some companies offer “phased retirement,” reduced hours or rehiring for peak times, in order to keep experienced older workers.

The back of the book includes a section on resources along with notes. And there are 17 valuable pages titled “Take Action” to help you evaluate where you are in thinking about the aging process. Prompts guide you in looking back and then looking forward, covering everything from health care to finances and everyday choices. You’ll evaluate what makes you feel fulfilled in light of the opportunities around you. I wish I had read this book 20 years earlier so that I would have been encouraged to “go for it” rather than feel I was “too old to go for it.”

Friday, April 15, 2016

Book Review: Living Forward

Think about what you want your life to look like ten years from now. Then think about your life now. Will your current lifestyle lead you to that future life you envision? Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want By Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy helps you develop a plan to make that vision a reality.

The authors start by having you think about your ending. What do you want people to say at your funeral? Then they guide you through steps to prioritize the “accounts” (marriage, family, career, etc.) of your life and make a commitment in each that will enable you to attain your dreams.

I found this book very understandable and helpful. The authors suggest that you read Parts 1 and 2 of the book, which explain the process, then take a day to work up your personal life plan in Part 3. I missed that suggestion and worked out my plan chapter-by-chapter. But I really enjoyed thinking through the various facets of my life and prioritizing them. I discovered that at my age and my stage, I need to shift my emphasis a bit to develop the future I hope for.

The authors suggest weekly reviews to keep your commitments in mind along with quarterly tweaking and  annual revisions in case your priorities change. I appreciated the “Life Planner’s Quick Guide” at the back of the book along with “Life Plan Examples” to give a person ideas. You can also go online to print out a guide so that you just need to fill in the blanks.

This is an excellent book no matter your age or stage of life. If you’re younger, you will do well to consider where your current lifestyle will lead. And the older you are, the more important it becomes to consider what you still want to accomplish. I got my book at the library, but it would be well worth the $21.99 retail price set by Baker Books. A necessary book for anyone serious about making their life count.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Six Things You Learn From Grief and Loss

On April 1, 1975, I gave birth to a little girl, Christy Marie. We were so excited to have a daughter to join two sons. But Christy soon found heaven’s air easier to breathe, and we were left with empty arms, empty dreams and an empty nursery. The other day, as a doctor examined my ears, I mentioned how my hearing loss was related to my pregnancies. She asked how many children I had. As usual, I wasn’t sure if I should say two or three. And I was surprised, even after 41 years, to feel a catch in my throat as I responded.

But I have learned a lot by surviving grief (and other losses as well), so I share such thoughts with you today. After all, we all will need someone to hold our hands sooner or later.

1.       You learn to value what you have. Yes, I was denied the privilege of raising a daughter, but I have had the pleasure (and of course challenges J) of raising two sons who brought two wonderful daughters-in-law into my life and gave me five “grand” grandchildren. I love and treasure my earthly family.

2.       You learn life is not perfect. Sometimes we forget we live in a fallen world where bad things happen to good people. After all, we deserve the best. But the saying is true: Every test in life makes you bitter or better. God is able to use every experience to mature us and to mold us into the image of His Son—if we let Him.

3.       You learn that eternal life starts now. It took years, but my grief lessened when I began picturing Christy in heaven, cared for by a Heavenly Father Who loves her even more than I do. In my prayers, I began asking God to “Tell Christy ‘hello’ for me” or “Tell Christy I miss her." I have two earthly sons and a heavenly daughter.

4.       You learn time heals. At first you think you’ve got your emotions under control, then minutes later you cry again. That’s just the way it is. You will never forget your loved ones, but time will lessen the hurt and the tears.

5.       You learn God gives strength for the day. How will you get through the funeral? How will you clean out a drawer? As you face such issues you find God gives strength for the task at hand. That’s why it’s important continually to look to Him.

6.       You learn compassion for others suffering loss of any kind. After you go through a hard experience, you better understand the emotions others feel in all losses—and you want to reach out and hold their hands. That’s part of our healing process, and it’s important to them as well. In you they see a survivor, and it shows them that they too can make it. You are an inspiration.

Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds in Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

I love the song “My Redeemer is Faithful and True” by Steven Curtis Chapman (you can find it on YouTube). Please accept my sympathy for any loss you’ve suffered. I hope you are finding the new mercies that Chapman sings about. Christ is faithful to see us through the tears, even though it may take years.

If you have suggestions to add to my list, feel free to leave a comment. If you receive this blog by e-mail, just click on the link at the bottom to get to the comment box.