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Monday, March 29, 2010

Spirituality and Purpose

One of the things that inevitably happens as we age is that we think more about those that came before us. Some people think this is due to a drive to be closer to their wisdom and to find meaning for our lives while others believe it is a natural process as we move closer to the end of our life. Whatever the reason, there are great spiritual opportunities, here!

This is a time to get more in touch with our spiritual nature. As our bodies change, it is only natural that we draw aspects of life that are more eternal. For some this means returning to earlier spiritual practices while for others, this new spiritual emphasis leads to seek other newer practices. Whatever your case, this wellspring of spiritual connection becomes a source of fulfillment and well-being. It also becomes part of our creative expression as we connect with friends, family and community in new, deeper and positive ways. It is and important part of expressing our true nature, authenticity and wisdom.

For me, this shows up in many ways but mostly in a drive to be more purposeful and intentional with my life. I sense that, for me, this is a true creative expression of my spiritual nature because what should be more spiritual than living my life connected to the Universe through my unique purpose.

We might all be more satisfied if we could answer the question each morning; "For who's sake am I living this day?"

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Grand Works Northwest Art Festival

Grand Works Northwest Art Festival is going to be an exciting full day of creative pursuits, investing in art and highlighting how creative activity supports the aging process. Guests will enjoy hands-on workshops, 50 artist booths, discussion groups, and live entertainment presented by honored elders.

This ground breaking event is being presented by The Geezer Gallery and Elders In Action. Amy Gorman, nationally known leader in the field of creativity and aging will be sharing her film (Still Kicking) with audiences. The event is also highlighted by representatives from many sectors of Portland including academia, culture and arts, media, and corporations.

What: Grand Works Northwest Art Festival
When: Saturday, May 22, 2010; 10 AM to 6PM
Where: Mark Building; 1119 SW Park Avenue, Portland, Oregon (next to the Portland Art Museum)

There will be a nominal entrance fee.

All proceeds will go to The Geezer Gallery and Elders In Action.

For more information contact Brenda Morgan at Elders In Action, 503-595-7531.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Life Purpose as Antidote for Illness

Exerpt from The Oregonian, Portland, Oregon

By Joe Rojas-Burke, The Oregonian
March 11, 2010

Having a sense of purpose in life seems to provide a shield against illness – particularly in old age.

In an ongoing study of healthy aging by Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, researchers used questionnaires to rate the sense of purpose in life among thousands of retirement-age women and men. Those with the highest sense of purpose were half as likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than those with the lowest sense of purpose during seven years of follow-up, the researchers reported this month in Archives of General Psychiatry.

In an earlier study, the same group found that the risk of dying from any cause was nearly cut in half among women and men with a greater sense of purpose. Japanese researchers in a similar study found evidence of protection from heart attacks and strokes in middle-aged men.

The protective effect seems to work regardless of depression or disability. Patricia Boyle, lead author of the Rush University studies, and her colleagues speculate that the protection emerges as a result of participating in meaningful activities, staying focused on reaching goals and engaging with other people. These are habits worth cultivating, other studies have found.

Answering these 10 questions can give you a quick read on your sense of purpose in life.

How often do you feel this way? (1 = never, 2 = almost never, 3 = sometimes, 4 = fairly often, 5 = very often)

* I feel good when I think of what I've done in the past and what I hope to do in the future.

* I have a sense of direction and purpose in life.

* I enjoy making plans for the future and working them to a reality.

* I am an active person in carrying out the plans I set for myself.

* Some people wander aimlessly through life, but I am not one of them.

How often in the past month have you felt this way? (5 = never, 4 = almost never, 3 = sometimes, 2 = fairly often, 1 = very often)

* I live life one day at a time and don't really think about the future.

* I tend to focus on the present because the future nearly always brings me problems.

* My daily activities often seem trivial and unimportant to me.

* I used to set goals for myself, but that now seems like a waste of time.

* I sometimes feel as if I've done all there is to do in life.

Calculate your score by totaling your answers and dividing the sum by 10. Scoring 4.2 or greater puts you in the 90th percentile of long-lived and healthy high scorers in the Rush study. Scoring 3.1 or lower puts you in the 10th percentile of low scorers with greater risk of dementia and early death. The average is 3.7.

-- Joe Rojas-Burke

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Something to Think About

"The older one gets, the more one feels that the present must be enjoyed; it is a precious gift, comparable to a state of grace" Scientist Marie Curie

What does it mean for you to really enjoy this moment?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Creativity and Life

When I talk to groups about creativity in the second half of life I usually get at least one response that goes something like "Oh,no, I can't paint or write poetry or play music. I'm not creative." For me, that response is more cultural than real.

For the sake of argument, here is the definition of creativity I like to use: Creativity is a mental process involving the discovery of new ideas or concepts, or new associations of already existing ideas or concepts. This means that "the arts" do not have sole rights to what it is to be creative.

Painting, sculpting, writing and playing music with others are all understood in our culture to be "creative activities". But what about cooking a good meal, tutoring young people, baking bread, meditating, walking in the woods, or spending a day pampering yourself. Now, if creativity is the act of creating something intentionally which has never existed before, don't these activities fit the definition?

What about our lives? When we live our lives intentionally and authentically aren't we always in the creative process?

Our life is the canvas for our creativity. When we live our lives according to our unique values and sense of purpose we stay in the creative state. And the intentional life, well lived, is perhaps the most beautiful and longest lasting product of our creative nature.

Now go be creative!!

Friday, March 5, 2010

What Do You Love?

I am taken by the notion that we become what we love.

Wayne Muller says "When we do what we love, again and again, our life comes to hold the fragrance of that thing. When we hold something in our hands day after day, our hands conform to the shape of what we have held." (How, Then, Shall We Live?)

There are many things in life I did not have the ability to love. On the flip side, I have also loved many things. My family and my community of friends. My music and wild places. My home and my town. I have come to know these things and people and have come to realize that what I love has shaped me, without a doubt. These are the things which have created the fabric of my life. I am fortunate and grateful for everything and I am also wondering how it might change as I grow in to this next stage of life with more intention than I showed in the first two-thirds.

I think that in the beginning of this adult life I loved the things I was supposed to love...doing my duty, so to speak! I loved them for what they could do for me... money, fame, status, friends, etc. Now I am more discerning about what I love including how and with whom I spend my time.

Now I tend to look for people and things that nourish me spiritually and emotionally and bring joy and satisfaction. These things seem to be more in alignment with my sense of values and how I wish the world to be after I'm gone. I also gain in courage from doing what I love. Courage to be myself..as unfinished as that is.

What do you love? When you answer this you gain clarity of purpose and the ability to act on what you believe...and isn't that what we really love?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Can you Be Ageless?

Have you ever noticed the dynamic that goes on between a child and a grandparent or elder? It's like they have a special bond, a special knowing, a sense of what is really important in the world. I can't explain it but it seems like if a parent or other adult comes in to the room where an elder and child are engaged in anything together the adult becomes irrelevant, unnecessary and, in fact, a nuisance.

Recently I read something that may shed some light on this phenomena that I'd like to share with you.

From Joan Chittister (The Gift of Years):

"Getting in touch with the young again is what keeps us in touch with the world. Children give us a lifeline to the present and the future that is denied to us if we sit alone in an independent-living unit. They don't play checkers much anymore but they can teach us all about video games. They might not know lullabies, but they know the words to every song on the radio. They tell us what the new language means. They keep us in touch with the warm and breathing world. They keep us warm and breathing, too.

They remind us that we are still part of the whole human race. We are not meant to be cordoned off from the rest of society. We are meant to be its wisdom center, its sign of a better life to come, its storehouse of a kind of lore no books talk about.

Once a society divides the human family as a matter of course, there is no family at all anymore. Instead, we have day care for children, senior citizen complexes for the elders, and condos where "families with children need not apply."

The older generation has been denied the right to teach. We are strangers to one another. This natural and necessary linkage between the old and the young cannot be reduced to a scheduled "activity for older citizens." This is the heartbeat of teh culture we are talking about here. It keep newness running in and out of our veins. It keeps ideas beyond murder, mayhem, drugs and sex running in and out of theirs.

Relating to a child who is not theirs enables elders to reach out beyond themselves and the confines of their own private lives to become fully human again. And having elders who are not their parents take an interest in them, talk to them, show them things their parents do not have time to do enables the child to be anchored by an adult who is not a disciplinarian."

Maybe that just explains the close connection between elders and children...each is a lifeline for the other!!