Dear Friends,

Dear Friends,

I’m taking some time off to enjoy being with family, friends, and Mother Nature during the Holydays. Returning sometime in January.

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The Light of Hope

The Light of Hope

The Winter Solstice arrives tomorrow, the shortest day and longest night of the year in the northern hemisphere. Since ancient times human beings have honored the sun at its lowest ebb and celebrated the lengthening of days and the diminishment of darkness that immediately follow.

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The Blessing of Slowing Down

The Blessing of Slowing Down

One of the complaints I sometimes hear about aging is that it slows us down. It’s true that we process information a bit more slowly as we age and move at a somewhat slower pace. But overall it seems to me that slowing down is much more a gift than a loss – one that is especially welcome during the winter holidays (originally holy days) that tend to leave us feeling more dazed than holy (whole). Slowing down and its faithful partner, Paring Down, are inclinations in later life that enhance the quality of life as well as buffering us against the frenzy of the Holidaze.

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The Blessing of Simplicity

The Blessing of Simplicity

Paring down is a natural inclination as we age, and it can be an ally at this time of year when too-muchness tends to expand exponentially. Several late-life trends move us toward simplification—our physical energy wanes somewhat; the nearness of death and the preciousness of life become more palpable; appearances, achievement, and acquiring tend to lose their appeal; and our capacity for savoring ordinary moments deepens. All of these help us to learn that less really is more – and to live accordingly.

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Light in the Darkness, Part I: Homecoming

Light in the Darkness, Part I: Homecoming

Each year, from mid November through December, it is a challenge not to become swept up in the Holidaze – a shopping and overdoing frenzy that takes an enormous toll on bank accounts, physical and cognitive health, and emotional well-being. In the past few years, I’ve tried many strategies for slowing down and restoring simplicity, stillness, and silence to the weeks before and after the winter solstice, a time that humankind has long regarded as sacred.

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Late-Life Creativity (Part II)

Late-Life Creativity (Part II)

Creativity is our essence and our birthright, a way of being that every child knows and adults can rediscover. It is often associated with genius and works of art, yet creativity is also a way of living, characterized by curiosity, playfulness, and wholeheartedness—qualities that tend to be at their peak in early childhood and often again in the winter of life.

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Creativity and Ingenuity in Later Life

Creativity and Ingenuity in Later Life

Early studies of creativity focused almost entirely on the extraordinary achievements of exceptional people like Mozart and Einstein, which led to the view that it is a rare quality, reserved for a talented few. More recent study by Ruth Richards and others has broadened our understanding of creativity to include experiences of discovery and originality that occur in the day-to-day lives of ordinary people (Everyday Creativity). Almost any meaningful activity that involves exploration, discovery, and some kind of expression can be considered creative.

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The Blessing of Kindness

The Blessing of Kindness

November 13 (next Tuesday) is the day humankind has set aside to remember the importance of kindness and to make an extra effort to treat others (and ourselves) with gentleness and understanding. World Kindness Day was established in Tokyo in 1998 by representatives of kindness organizations from around the world and is currently observed in 28 nations. This year, when incivility and even hostility are so prevalent in our own country and elsewhere, doing what we can to reestablish kindness as a social norm is especially important.

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Life in the Midst of Death

Life in the Midst of Death

At this time of year in many places around the world, human beings celebrate the continuity of life in the midst of death and honor those who have died. For example, in Mexico, Spain, and elsewhere, many are observing the days of the dead (Dia de los Muertos), remembering departed friends and family by creating small altars (ofrendas), offering prayers in support of their continuing spiritual journey, and inviting their spirits to visit with colorful parades and decorated gravesites.

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Remembrance as Legacy

Remembrance as Legacy

An earlier blog (Remembering, Meaning, and Wholeness) described the deepening sense of meaning and cohesiveness that the life review can bestow in later life. The process not only enhances psychological well-being and helps us prepare for death, but it also enriches the legacies we have to share with the human family. As gerontologist Ron Manheimer points out, “We are mistaken . . . in thinking that people remember only for the sake of the past, when in fact old people remember for the sake of the future.” In sharing the stories of our own life and of those who have gone before, we pass on wisdom and reaffirm our interconnectedness, the continuity of life, and the endurance of the human spirit. In our hurried, virtual, unbalanced, and isolating postmodern world, these legacies of wisdom, belonging, and hope may be more crucial than they have ever been.

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