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.
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.
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.
A few weeks ago someone asked me what it takes to write a book, and last week’s blog, Some Thoughts on Writing Winter’s Graces, described two characteristics that have proved invaluable in bringing the book to completion and into the world: passion and courage. Two others, flexible tenacity and trust in the process, are described here.
Someone recently asked me what it takes to write a book. Winter’s Graces took over 15 years to complete and became available in bookstores just two days ago, so the question was both timely and intriguing. As a first-time author of a non-fiction book, I’m hardly an expert on birthing books. But it’s been enjoyable living with the question for a time and realizing that there are a few things I’d like to share about writing this particular book that might be of interest to those who are in the midst of writing one, or those who might be haunted / inspired by an idea but are daunted by the prospect of turning it into a book.
Winter’s Graces: The Surprising Gifts of Later Life is being released on Tuesday, October 9, after more than 15 years of study, writing, editing, and rewriting; learning to navigate the brave new (to me) world of publishing; dealing with internal obstacles like...
In places well north of the equator, Nature has begun her annual turning toward autumn with its colder temperatures and ebbing daylight. The first hints of gold and scarlet have arrived, and soon deciduous trees will cast off their beautiful leaves in order to survive the winter and be able to produce new foliage in spring. For many of us, the arrival of fall each year triggers a time of introspection and taking stock as we sort through possessions, reexamine our priorities, and let go of what we no longer need or value. A similar process of taking stock and letting go takes place in later life that is as necessary for our wellbeing as it is for the health of trees.
Tomorrow is World Peace Day, celebrated internationally each year since1982 on September 21. This year’s theme focuses on peace as a basic human right and marks the 70th anniversary of the passing of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The declaration states, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person,” which are essential for peace between peoples and nations.
At a recent 80th birthday luncheon in honor of our friend and colleague, Eleanor, Charlie asked what this time of life is like for her. She paused thoughtfully and gave a somewhat surprising answer. Rather than sharing her enthusiasm about the upcoming trainings and presentations she still offers internationally, she told us, “A lot of it is remembering things from the past and seeing how it’s all connected. How one event was necessary so that something else could happen. I think about that a lot these days.”
September 9 (the first Sunday after Labor Day) is national Grandparents Day, officially established in 1979 by President Carter, thanks to the pioneering efforts of Jacob Reingold of the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, New York, and the passion and persuasive persistence of...