September 29, 2011

The Buzz of the Life

Who makes the rules anyway about how we age and move through our next 50 years?  Personally “I want to be all used up before I die” a George Bernard Shaw quote I interpret as “let’s give it our best”.   
It warms my heart to read about aging seniors who are living a full life and getting involved in their community. A social person myself, I also enjoy being around others of like mind, learning and it appears there are lots of us out there who also prefer this buzz of activity.  That might be at the local senior’s center or perhaps the local coffee shop, but any morning both are bustling.
The atmosphere of a local senior centre any morning is enough inspiration to want to start a new hobby or take a class.  Recent stories in the media showcase the “New Age-ing” who work out in seniors exercise parks, enjoy fitness every day, or are taking classes at local universities.  While there is a large bulge of aging seniors enjoying what their community has to offer we must be cognisant that there are others who are not. Recognizing that some people are content to simply enjoy family and close friends and choose not to participate in such buzz, we do however know that there are many others who might be nervous, home bound, financially restricted or challenged by heath issues and have no choice.  Let’s not forget them. 
Community projects are being developed and sponsored by the local health authorities to help increase access, social participation and inclusion of these isolated seniors through volunteer based outreach programs.  Referrals can also be made to community services for additional support.  Some programs begin by building trust with the peer support worker in the clients home through conversation.  This might lead to visiting the buzz of the local senior center or coffee shop eventually wanting to get involved in a community program with others.  
As children of aging parents we too could have these conversations with our parents and see how we might help them engage in their community or explore their wishes.
At any age there are opportunities to get connected to your community but sometimes circumstances merely get in the way. 
Published BC Black Press September 2011

September 20, 2011

All my life I wanted to be a rock star

All my life I have wanted to be a rock star or the chance to pretend.

The only music I remember in our house growing up was opera, Christmas and the Bee Gee’s. My Dad’s record player sat on a shelf behind the den door where he would stack 10 albums that would play one after the other all Sunday and quite loud whether you liked it or not!

After the arrival of our two kids, one with a solid ear for music and the other a solid leg to sports the music really began.  We always had music playing in the back ground and not just the likes of Raffi but a solid variety of rock and roll, country and mainstream. The kids to this day laugh at the fact that when we have parties the music is so loud they can hear it over at their friends house a block away.  In fact for my 40th birthday my husband crowned me Edgemont Idol and everyone was encouraged to come in costume and to sing or act out their favourite song – best gift ever!

My husband also loves “good music” and he has taught our family to respect the record album.  200 albums hide alphabetically on the top shelf of our coat cupboard in our little tiny rancher (oh and when we have parties the guests get to choose which album they wish to hear – this is called the “record game”).

 Thanks to a friend we found the local School of Rock where my son began piano lessons but quickly got the bug for electric then acoustic guitar and vocals and is now part of a performance band.  The founders name is ironically S. Melody!  She and her passionate teachers teach way more than just musical notes for they encourage and inspire these kids to live their dreams among like minded friends.  Life a family, they are safe to move out of their comfort zone to grow.

Watching our son on stage playing in his band singing vocals to songs from artists he loves is as good for me as being that rock star.  He has gained the love of music and he treasures his collection of concert tickets from some of those favourite artists that he and his Dad have enjoyed from the likes of Neil Young, The Who, ACDC, John Fogerty, Eric Clapton with many more planned. 

Living vicariously  through my son I am that rock star.
Denise Kelly is a North Vancouver Boomer proudly living with her two children, husband and dog Mel.  She looks forward to sharing stories to motivate others.

Originally published Black Press 2010

My Pill Box is Too Small

OK, I am laughing out loud because I am trying to jam all my daily vitamins into a pill box because I go away tomorrow but they don’t fit!  How did I get here in a place having to manage my pills and do I really need to be taking all of these magic gems?   My kids gave me the pill box for a joke Christmas present one year and I honestly thought I would never use it - little did I know I would actually need it!
My Mom and Dad both have pill boxes full of colourful pills in a variety of sizes and shapes. My Mom apparently considers this like a part-time job preparing their pill boxes for the week. Their other option would be blister packs where ones pharmacy will bundle pills into a preformed plastic pack so each day you pop out just what you need.  I can only imagine how many of our aging parents are forgetting to take their pills and worse yet, are taking so many different kinds that they actually cause harm.  Many seniors are living longer because we have learned to manage disease which is great but the cost of prescription medications to seniors is astronomical.  The other day when I took my Mom to the specialist she had written down on an index card all her medications she takes and in fact told me she keeps this card with her everywhere she goes.  She says it’s like insurance and apparently information seniors need to self manage. I reluctantly myself look at her list and wonder if one day I may be taking some of the same medications because the disease may be hereditary.  
My goal is to learn to manage my own health proactively, using vitamins so that I can try to ward off disease as long as possible.  I just got home from my local Health Works vitamin store and my monthly chat with the lovely gal who works there.  She is around my age and we often laugh out loud as we discuss similar challenges we are facing, reassuring each other we are not alone! Today I came away with Vitamin D and a new natural multivitamin and this is the reason my pill box is overflowing!
No blister packs for this gal, I will jam the vitamins into my pill box as best as I can. I refuse to buy another ugly pill box with bigger compartments because I am just not mentally ready to accept it.  Instead, I am going to design a fun ~bright container that Boomers can use when they travel and it won’t look anything like the sterile medical looking ones on the market today.
Let’s face it, I need no daily reminder that I am indeed aging.
Denise Kelly is a North Vancouver Boomer proudly living with her two children, husband and dog Mel.  She looks forward to sharing stories to motivate others.

Originally published in BC Black Press 2011

Today I am On Strike!

Is that the little voice of reason making a visit today? Ok, I know that I should be doing laundry, going for a walk, answering emails as my black berry buzzes and even getting to those crusty dirty muffin pans that have been soaking in the sink since yesterday but I am not.  Today I am On Strike!
You see this is the first day off I feel like I have had in weeks and I need to focus on clearing the clutter in my mind first before I can move forward and be productive.  (Apparently clutter in the house could be a cause for clutter in the mind and brain fitness could be a solution).   I call these lazy days being  On Strike and my family has learned to accept them but they do dread the outcome as that usually means they have to help catch up on chores on the weekends. Don’t get me wrong I am liberated and they have chores too, but the reality is that they too sometimes ignore them just like me!
Luckily both my kids and my husband are raving fans of being On Strike themselves. My husband has the On Strike thing down pat and like many other husbands could easily amuse himself by watching sports all day.  I believe it is healthy to listen to your body and slow down when we need it and to never criticize others for doing it.  I fully recognize that I need these lazy days every once in a while as my life becomes even busier with opportunities around work, writing,  managing a family, schedules, aging parents and trying to fit in person fun. 
My sister seems to have a different approach and would ideally take an hour each day for something called “toes up” where she sits down, regroups over tea and clears the mind clutter with her eyes shut.  I am not ready for that nor do I have time each day for this but it is encouraging to know that we all in our own way find a solution that works. 
Today, maybe I will just throw the dirty old muffin tins out instead of washing them and close my eyes and try that “toes up” thing my sister does.  Maybe I’ll have a nap on this glorious rainy day after all I did have to take the dog to the vet at 7:45am and was up early.  No, maybe I will catch a little of Oprah because my Dad said that this is her last season. 
Better yet, a quote in the morning paper referring to clutter says, “when you don’t have time to manage your home, perhaps it’s time to trim down your list of activities”. 
Perfect, today I will do just that.  I agree to ditch the activity of doing the laundry and washing those dirty muffin tins.

Denise Kelly is a North Vancouver Boomer proudly living with her two children, husband and dog Mel.  She looks forward to sharing stories to motivate others.

Originally published BC Black Press 2011

My Journey Into Facebook

At 46 years young I was involved with starting a female hockey team called the Stanley Cupcakes and now I proudly take another step to break this generation gap, into the unknown world of social media.
You see, my passion is to empower seniors to live the best life they can and I thought that the use of Facebook as a tool for seniors to stay connected with their grandchildren and children might also help them to bridge the generation gap and in turn, create stronger families.  With that, I give it a try!
I must be the only one of my friends not on Facebook. Twitter sounds like a bird and YouTube makes me laugh but my kids and my dad, a senior himself, know all about the benefits.
Psyched up, I find the Facebook site. Should I use my real name or a sexy one like “Hot Hips”?
I decide that if I was using this social media tool for connecting to others, then I better use my real name so people can find me. Apparently it will allow me to connect to my past schoolmates and my world before children.
Name created but I laugh out loud... password! I create one but write it down because guaranteed I will have forgotten it by tomorrow.
Not bad, I’m in. Now I can simply search for friends. I type in my sister’s name, confident she will be my friend. Within minutes, up pops a picture of her, granted it looks like it was taken through the bottom of a pop bottle. Again I laugh out loud. There she is, I click on her name and presto, I can send her a note, in real time. I see that she is friends with her daughters and my daughter.
So I search my husband, my kids and my work. Amazingly, I find that I can connect back to my world before kids.
I find a global site called Camp Tawingo where I went every summer starting at nine years old. I can see the names of some of the members, which I recognize from when I was there and pictures and stories (called blogs) which tell about it as it is today.
This warms my heart and makes me smile.
Lunch is over I have to log out and get back to reality but it’s been worth the adventure. I can’t wait to search for old boyfriends and high school friends so we can reminisce about old times. I might even ask my kids and my 79-year-old dad to be Facebook friends.
Denise Kelly is a North Vancouver Boomer proudly living with her two children, husband and dog Mel.  She looks forward to sharing stories to motivate others.

Originally published BC Black Press 2009