Dealing With Depression and Loneliness

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Everyone feels lonely from time to time, but for some, loneliness comes far too often.

Feeling lonely can plague many people — including those who are older, people who are isolated, and those with depression— with symptoms such as sadness, isolation, and withdrawal. Loneliness can strike a person who lives alone or someone who lives in a house filled with people. “Loneliness is subjective,” says Louise Hawkley, PhD, a research associate in the psychology department at the University of Chicago. “You can’t argue with someone who says they’re lonely.”

Although depression doesn’t always lead to loneliness, feeling lonely is often a predictor of depression one year or even two years later, and it certainly leads to sadness, Dr. Hawkley says. Freeing yourself of feelings like being isolated by depression is part of the healing process.

How to Fight Depression and Loneliness

Feelings of loneliness don’t have to be constant to call for action, but you will need to give yourself a push to get back into the thick of life and re-engage with others to start feeling better. These strategies for fighting depression and loneliness can help:

  • Make a plan.There are two basic types of loneliness. Acute loneliness results from losing a loved one or moving to a new place, for example. In these situations, chances are you know at some level that you’ll have to go through a period of adjustment to get through this feeling of loneliness. The other type of loneliness is the chronic subjective type, which strikes despite your existing relationships. Both require a plan of action. One strategy is making a point to meet people who have similar interests, Hawkley says.
  • Do something — anything. In depression treatment there’s a theory called behavioral activation, which is a clinical way of saying, “Just do it.” If you’re feeling lonely and want to change it, any small step you take — even striking up a casual, friendly conversation with the barista at your corner café — is a good move.
  • Explore your faith. There are only a few strategies that are proven to successfully protect against loneliness, and this is one of them. “People who have a personal relationship with their God or a higher power tend to do well,” Hawkley notes. There are a lot of factors at work here, one of them being that faith communities provide many opportunities for positive social encounters. You don’t have to have a close friend in the community to get the benefit, Hawkley says — just feeling that you belong in the group is enough. In addition, faith can help you accept the things in life you can’t control.
  • Bond with a dog.“Pets, especially dogs, are protective against loneliness,” Hawkley says. There are many reasons why this strategy works: Dogs get you out and about, they’re naturally social creatures, and you’ll have a living being to care about. If you’re not in a position to own a dog, find ways to help care for other people’s dogs or volunteer to help dogs at a shelter that need loving attention. Other pets, such as cats and fish, can also help ease loneliness.
  • Have realistic standards.“Loneliness is a mismatch between your ideal and what you actually have,” Hawkley says. Part of the solution may be to accept that you can have fun and light conversation with a variety of people, and that it’s okay if they don’t become lifelong confidantes. Also, reflect on whether you have any unrealistic standards that are making it hard to connect with others and stop feeling lonely, such as expecting too much from a new friendship too quickly or relying on another person too much.
  • Think beyond yourself. Depression can make you feel very self-focused, meaning that everything is all about you. But remind yourself that if you ask a co-worker to join you for lunch and the person can’t make it, you shouldn’t automatically assume that he or she has rejected you. The person might have a previous lunch date or too much work to leave his or her desk.
  • Reach out to a lonely person. Whether you’re feeling lonely now or just know how it feels, you may get an emotional boost from befriending someone else who’s lonely. Some people may view loneliness as contagious, and therefore lonely people often become even more isolated. “We believe there is a responsibility in the community to reach out to people who are suffering,” Hawkley says. In doing so, you can help others and yourself, too. Examples include volunteering for an organization that helps elderly people or visiting a neighbor who’s lost a spouse.
  • Call, don’t post. Social networks are fun and can provide an essential social outlet for some people, but Hawkley says research suggests that, on average, people do best if more of their relationships happen face-to-face or over the phone. Use a pal’s post as an excuse to call and talk about it instead of posting a comment back.
  • Make time for relationships. Everyone is busy, but relationships won’t wait until you’ve finished your PhD, raised your kids, snagged the next big promotion, or moved to your ideal city. Build them now. “No one on their death bed wishes they’d worked a few more hours,” Hawkley says.
  • Talk to a trusted friend or relative. Get some feedback and ideas, as well as a sympathetic ear, from a family member or friend with whom you trust your thoughts and feelings. This person could have some ideas about groups you might want to join to meet positive people.
  • Explore therapy.I f you just can’t shake profound feelings of loneliness, isolation, and other symptoms of depression, you might want to talk to a mental health professional. Look for a professional with a cognitive behavioral background, an approach that’s been shown to help with depression and loneliness.

“Social relationships are fundamental to our thriving,” Hawkley says. The fact that loneliness feels so uncomfortable is a reminder to pay attention to and nurture these relationships that can further your happiness.

By Madeline R. Vann, MPH    Everyday Health

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Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous socializing opportunities through events and travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+, active and single adults.

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org

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THE ONE QUALITY YOU NEED TO SURVIVE YOUR 50’S (AND BEYOND)

resiliance2As the owner of Silver Connections and working with only those age 55+, I have seen my members deal with grief from the death of a spouse, serious illness, divorce, losing family members and even children, surgeries, job loss and so many other of life’s challenges.  I am in awe quite often at their ability to move forward, their capacity to recover from difficulties, their toughness. The fact that they find Silver Connections and contact me and are making the effort to move forward, to engage, to laugh and enjoy life – shows their resilience and their ability to overcome serious hardship. Taking it one step at a time.

 

Author Contributor – Ronna Benjamin     “Better After 50”

A few days ago, on a cloudless, cool, perfect-for-leaf-peeping day, two friends and I decided to hike up Mount Osceola in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. For those of us who might have arthritic knees, bad attitudes, or are prone to blistering toes, the hike might be described as “pretty long and grueling,” and, in fact, that’s exactly how my husband described it to me the evening before, as I consulted with him on various trail options.

Long and grueling: full disclosure. Of course– we decided to go for it.

After close to two hours of going up climbing over boulders, stepping over roots, and more and more up, I was pretty sure that we were making good time and we were nearing the summit. It was noon, after all, so despite the snacks, I was thinking, “lunchtime…” and in my head I was doing a little Snoopy Suppertime dance. I was really looking forward to soggy chicken with Sriracha in a 60-calorie flax seed pita (don’t judge.) I kept noting to my friends that we must be quite close to the summit (I had done this hike before- I thought I recognized the terrain) and before we knew it, we’d be resting comfortably in the sun, having lunch and a sparkling water on sun warmed piece of granite, overlooking the most magnificent mountains.

That’s when we ran into a group of young people coming down, and my friend asked the question that should never be asked:

“How close are we to the top?”

A look of hesitancy came over the young woman’s face. She looked at her mileage counter hiking watch (those things are cool—got to get me one), she told us the truth that we didn’t want to hear: “You have a little over a mile to go.”

We proceeded on. Up, and more up. Step by step.

And you know what? We made it up that mountain without a problem. And we made it down, again, step by step, just a little slower.

We didn’t think of calling it quits. We barely rested. We didn’t complain. We just did what we had to do.

We finally got down from the mountain, and I turned on the car to go home, to an eerie silence. The car battery had died. We got it jumped. Later, it died again. And we got it jumped again. And while I don’t like to drive in the dark (statements that immediately age you), I drove home in the dark.

And it occurred to me when I was home in bed, that there really wasn’t any part of the day that fazed any of us. Not even a little. We took the hike in stride (pun intended), the soggy chicken sandwich and lack of dessert  (grapes are not dessert- what were we thinking?) in stride, the blisters in stride, the dead car battery in stride. We are—all three of us— strong, resilient women who can pretty much deal with anything.

Why? Because all of us, well into our 50’s, have had a lot to deal with.

Some might call it “grit.”

Some might say it’s just doing what you have to do.

My mother would call it “living with with the cards you are dealt.”

I call it resilience, and I think it is the one quality you must have in your 50’s and beyond, because while it is often better after 50 , it sure isn’t perfect. Not even close.

Resilience is getting back to living your own life to the fullest after the death of a loved one.

Resilience is finding peace with life’s greatest disappointments.

Resilience is bouncing back after you lose your job.

Resilience is finding the energy to move from a home that you love.

Resilience is giving your body the physical and mental time to recover after surgery.

Resilience is finding your life again after cancer treatments.

Resilience is the ability to say, “this too shall pass,” and to actually believe it.

Sure, stuff happens at every age. At any age you may lose a job, a parent, a limb, a spouse or god forbid a child…it’s just that at 50 and older, you can be absolutely sure that quite a bit of it is going to happen in that decade, or just beyond– to you, or to someone you love. You can pretty much count on it.

Without resilience, you’re screwed.  But with it, life can be better– as long as you make the climb up and the climb down–step, by step, by step.  And try to remember dessert.

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Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous socializing opportunities through events and travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+, active and single adults.

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org

The Surprising Truth About Dating After 50

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Silver Connections is an organization for those who are 55 and over, active adults and are single. We are not a dating or matchmaking service, but provide quality socializing activities (events and travel) with the opportunity to meet new friends. If you are looking to just find a date, then we are not a good fit. Having said that, we do have members who were a part of a couple for many years, who are now widowed or divorced and are dating outside of the group. We also have had four couples who met in the group and have gotten married.

I posted this article because I found it to be very informative and offers a unique insight into dating after 50. The author, being a male, also brings an interesting perspective.

What are your thoughts?

 

Article Credit – Wes Gibson

After the passing of my wife of 31 years, I found myself alone for the first time in my life. My choices: spend the rest of my life living alone or jump into the over-50 dating pool. Having run into several issues over the years, I am still debating the pros and cons of those choices.

The main thing I’ve discovered about dating at my age (currently 55), is that there is a lot of competition to deal with. No, not other men. I wish it were that easy. I’m talking about a level of competition that is nearly impossible to compete against, a woman’s family. While I write this from a man’s point of view, this applies equally to women who find themselves back in the dating pool after widowhood or a divorce.

As someone dating past middle age, you will be competing for attention against children still in the home, adult children, grandchildren, aging parents, siblings, pets, friends, home maintenance, careers and various media channels.

Competing may be too harsh of a word. It truly isn’t a competition in the sense that you have to win. Your goal is not to defeat the children and steal their Mother or Father away from them. Your goal, after finding that special someone, is merging into a new family as seamlessly as possible.

I have come to believe, that it is very important to concentrate at least half of your efforts in developing good relationships with the family and friends rather than devoting all of your attention to your love interest.

In the early days of dating, it’s easy to capture the attention of your date. I like to call this the “newness factor.” You are like the shiny new toy they want to play with all the time. Eventually though, the newness will wear off. Your love interest will have to refocus attention back on family, friends, and everyday life. If you did nothing other than concentrate your efforts on her or him, then chances are you will fall to the wayside. They simply will not have enough time for you.

If, on the other hand, you concentrate your efforts on developing good relationships with everyone he or she loves, then your chances of survival in the relationship are greatly improved. There are at least three very good reasons for this.

  1. Your love interest will be able to observe you in a context other than romantically. They will see how your interact with others he or she loves. Are you a kind and caring person? Do you fit in with the family? Do you communicate well with others? Is the family glad you are there? Are you helpful to others? Basically, do you bring value to their family? Let’s face it, even back in the caveman days, if you do not bring value to the clan, then you are nothing more than an extra burden.

 

  1. Spending time with your love interest’s family and friends affords you more time together to grow as a couple.In today’s hectic world, just relying on date nights doesn’t allow for much time together. Getting involved in family gatherings, helping out with entertaining the grandchildren, or just watching television in a family environment gives the two of you more time to develop strong bonds.

 

  1. If the family and friends like you, respect you, trust you, and come to depend on you, then they will keep your name in front of your love interest. While trying to win the hand of your love, all the dinners, flowers, and romance won’t keep you in the limelight if their family doesn’t like you. Why not win the family and friends over, making them champions for your cause? If everybody is asking for you, then you have a pretty good chance of becoming a permanent addition.

 

Finding that special someone after 50 can be a challenge. I would venture to say that it is vastly more challenging than dating in your twenties due to increased number of people and distractions demanding your love interest’s attention. Use the newness factor to your advantage. While you do have to make a concerted effort to impress your love interest, for the most part, the relationship will develop naturally.

Devote as much time as possible to forming solid relationships with the other people demanding your love interest’s attention. Your competition so to speak. Honestly put yourself out there, become part of the family, and actually care about others. Get to know everybody by name. Talk to them. Learn about their jobs, their hobbies, their likes and dislike, their problems. Offer them help when you can. In doing so, you will be seen as someone of value to the family and will make them a champion for you.

 

 

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous socializing opportunities through events and travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+ (mostly Boomers!) active and single adults.

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org

The “10 Rights” of Parents of Adult Children

 

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I have seen some of my Silver Connections members struggle with putting in place boundaries with their adult children.  It can at times be difficult for them to know what is acceptable and what expectations and demands from their adult children may be crossing the line or asking too much.

Below, is “10 rights” that will contribute to the overall health and well-being of parents of adult children and a good guideline to follow to avoid hurt and fractured relationships down the road.

 

  1. The Right to Be Free from Abuse Some parents find themselves the victims of abuse by their children, physical as well as verbal or psychological. In all cases, the abuser’s goal is to gain or perpetuate control over another. Abuse is never acceptable. If you find yourself in an abusive situation, set limits with your child. End abusive phone conversations, refuse to give time, money, or advice until you are treated appropriately.

 

  1. The Right to Be Guilt-Free Parents feel accountable for what happens in their families. But when best intentions produce less-than-ideal results, guilt can easily creep in. Some mothers and fathers may be subject to manipulation by an adult child who continues to hold them responsible for his delinquent behavior. Other parents find their adult child has rewritten a seemingly normal family history. (“Of course I overdrew my bank account, I never learned to control anything on my own.”)  No good purpose is served by being haunted with guilt forever. If your child will not forgive you, or you cannot forgive yourself, get help.

 

  1. The Right to Peace of Mind Most empty nesters expect that, at some point, living without their children will result in increased freedom and peace of mind. But some parents discover their lives become increasingly strained when children leave home. There is no peace for a boomer parent whose adult child is struggling with issues such as substance abuse, spousal mistreatment, health or criminal activity. If you find yourself in one of these situations, “claim your peace.” That means giving yourself permission to enjoy yourself at your job, have fun with friends, continue your hobbies and take time to exercise.

 

  1. The Right to Have Reasonable Expectations What constitutes a reasonable expectation for an adult child? Some basic behaviors can and should be universally expected. Young adults living at home should be working or going to school, or both. They should contribute actively to the maintenance of the household. If they are working full-time, they should take sole responsibility for their personal expenses, including their cell phone bill and car insurance payments.  It is reasonable to expect that parents and their children will speak respectfully to each other. And parents’ sleep schedules should be treated with consideration.

 

  1. The Right to Be Imperfect Sometimes being a “good enough” parent is sufficient. A “good enough” parent recognizes his or her own strengths and limitations and, on balance, is comfortable about doing an adequate job.  Your adult children may have more empathy if you admit a degree of fallibility. And you will enjoy yourself more when you’re not worried about having to be right all the time.

 

  1. The Right to Decide to What to Do with Your Own Money Give financially to your children if you choose, but remember that doing so is a gift, not an obligation. Parents do not owe their children the lifestyle to which they may have become accustomed. Nor do they owe their children money for traffic violations, fines, cars, furniture, frills or even necessities.

 

  1. The Right to Decide What to Do with Your Time The most important gift you can give others (or yourself) is the gift of time.  Distribute that gift with care. If you are always available to babysit your grandchildren or dog-sit your child’s hound, you may be creating an expectation you will not be able to maintain. Worse, it could become one that will be upheld to your detriment. The important point is that you are in charge of your free time. You do not need an excuse to spend time doing nothing but relaxing.

 

  1. The Right of Selective Association It is each parent’s right to decide with whom he or she will associate. Most adult children recognize this and do not interfere with their parent’s choice of friends, business associates and romantic  partners.  However, this is a right that is not always honored. Siblings may complicate the picture. For example, one sibling may be ready to “write off” another whose lifestyle or habits conflict with those of the rest of the family. But it is the parent’s right to choose to have contact with each of his or her children.

 

  1. The Right to Retirement Some parents who are compelled to defer their plans for retirement have adult children who’ve been struggling financially or emotionally for years. The parental motivation is well intended: they love their children. But parents have a right to reap the benefits of a lifetime of work; no child is automatically owed a bailout. Remember: there’s no reason to believe that an adult child lacking a work ethic will suddenly change with “just one more small loan” from his mother or father.

 

  1. The Right to Say “No” This may be the most crucial right of all because it is a prerequisite for all other rights. Parents must be able to say “no” to stop or prevent abuse, to claim their peace, to control their finances and to manage their time. Engaging in your right to say “no” may displease your children. That does not mean you are doing something wrong; in fact, it usually means the opposite. You have chosen to be authentic, rather than compliant; real, rather than superficially agreeable.  And that’s your right.

 

 

Article Credit:   By Linda M. Herman,  FORBES

 

 

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous socializing opportunities through events and travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+ (mostly Boomers!) active and single adults.

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org

Loneliness And Impact On Physical Health

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Although loneliness is a universal human emotion, it is also highly individual. Being lonely is far more complex than fleeting feelings of sadness and isolation, which makes treating this troubling state especially tricky. However, given that a new study out of the University of Chicago confirms loneliness can actually make you sick, scientists are actively trying to unravel the intricacies of this “invisible epidemic.”

In the Nov. 23 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of researchers — including University of Chicago psychologist and leading loneliness expert John Cacioppo — published a study showing loneliness actually triggers cellular changes that cause illness. Building on previous research by the same team, the new study offers an in-depth look at how this fight-or-flight stress signaling creates a snowball effect that ultimately alters the production of white blood cells. As we all know, white blood cells are the good guys who fight off infection. However, an inappropriate inflammatory response (aka a non-reciprocated influx of white blood cell activity) can actually do more harm than good if not regulated.

This phenonamin leaves lonely individuals more vulnerable to infection due to dampened antiviral response, and also more susceptible to chronic disease thanks to the inappropriate inflammation. Some of these potential health consequences include heart disease and stroke, increased stress levels, decreased memory and learning, alcoholism, and altered brain function. Because loneliness disrupts the regulation of cellular processes in the body, says Cacioppo, it also predisposes those suffering from it to premature aging.

Of course, it’s important to point out there is a distinction between being lonely and simply being alone. Loneliness isn’t merely the state of being alone. In other words, when you feel completely disconnected from everyone, even if you are surrounding by friends and family, this can be loneliness. Loneliness is a state of mind. Nearly all of us will experience periods of loneliness in our lives, but if it continues beyond a small amount of time, here are a few tips for actively guarding against it and overcoming it.

 

  1. Take The Initiative

Especially for people who are lonely, reaching out of the sphere of isolation to make contact with other human beings might seem pointless. But while withdrawing into yourself is tempting, the healthiest thing you can do when you are sad or feeling alone is to cultivate connections with other people.

 

  1. Find A Commonality

Even our deepest feelings are likely shared by others. It makes sense, right? We’re all in this together, just trying not to lose our grip as this great big world keeps spinning faster. So the very act of reaching out may lead you to a connection or commonality that will make you feel less alone. Or, you could create a shared experience. Take a vested interest in what someone else is doing and enjoy doing it with them.

 

  1. Shift The Focus To Someone Else

There’s a reason they say it is better to give than to receive — few things in life feel more rewarding than doing something good for someone else. If you find yourself dwelling on how alone you are and how hopeless you feel, turn your attention to the needs and feelings of someone else.

 

  1. Find A Hobby

It’s easy to fall into the wormhole of despair when you have nothing else to do. It kind of falls under that whole “idle hands are the devil’s tools” idiom — a full agenda can keep you out of trouble in more ways than one. So take the leap if you’ve been toying with taking Zumba classes or learning another language. After all, studies show that people who are the happiest, are busy.

 

  1. Don’t Cancel

When other people invite you to dinner, go. When you have made plans with someone, make an effort to show up. You might be surprised by how much you enjoy it and you might make connections in the process who’ll understand what you’re going through.

 

While loneliness feels awful and can be harmful to your body, it can also benefit us. Scientists believe that aversion to loneliness evolved as a signal to tell us that our connections are broken or under threat, thereby motivating us to maintain or repair them. Thus loneliness helps promote healthy relationships with those around us, in the same way that thirst ensures we drink enough water. And even though it hurts at the time, science has shown that for most people, loneliness goes away fairly quickly, replaced by positive feelings when we reach out and connect with others. Persistent feelings of loneliness can be damaging, but the more we learn about how and why we feel the way we do, the better equipped we are to prevent or treat loneliness to become our happiest, healthiest selves.

 

Article Credit- Judie Sprankles (Bustle) and Yahoo Health

 

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous socializing opportunities through events and travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+ (mostly Boomers!) active and single adults.

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org

Social Connections and Health

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Previous studies have found that aging adults live longer if they have more social connections. A new study builds on that research – demonstrating how social relationships reduce the risk of poor health at each stage of life.

The size of a person’s social network is important for health in early as well as late adulthood.

Social integration in adolescence was found to protect against obesity. Researchers found body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference were higher among those with lower levels of social integration during adolescence.

And, in older age, social isolation can exacerbate a host of health problems, they said.

But, in middle adulthood, the number of social connections do not appear to matter as much as the level of support or strain they provide.

Dr Harris said: ‘The relationship between health and the degree to which people are integrated in large social networks is strongest at the beginning and at the end of life, and not so important in middle adulthood, when the quality, not the quantity, of social relationships matters.’

The scientists assessed data from four surveys of the US population that, collectively, covered the lifespan from adolescence to older age.

One of the four studies examined found that having a strong social base earlier in life led to a 54 per cent reduction in the chances of developing hypertension later.

Dr Yang Claire Yang, of UNC, CPC and the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center said: ‘We studied the interplay between social relationships, behavioral factors and physiological dysregulation that, over time, lead to chronic diseases of aging – cancer being a prominent example.”  Feeling lonely can ‘vastly elevate’ a person’s risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer, scientists warn.

“Our analysis makes it clear that doctors, clinicians and other health workers should redouble their efforts to help the public understand how important strong social bonds are throughout the course of all of our lives.”

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

From The Daily UK

 

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous socializing opportunities through events and travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+ (mostly Boomers!) active and single adults.

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org

How Do You Handle Adversity?

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All of us have experienced the wonderful joy that life can bring, but also times of sorrow that is also a part of living.

Read a favorite story below and think about when life offers you heartache and sadness, how do you handle this adversity?

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A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her –  everything seemed to be falling to pieces. The simple act of waking up in the morning had become a near impossible feat. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as soon as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, ‘Tell me what you see.’

‘Carrots, eggs, and coffee,’ she replied.

Her grandmother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The grandmother then asked the granddaughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.

Finally, the grandmother asked the granddaughter to sip the coffee. The granddaughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The granddaughter then asked, “What does all this mean?”

Her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

Which are you?” she asked her granddaughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity? Do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level?

How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

“Life is not the way it is supposed to be, it is the way it is.  The way you cope with it, is what makes the difference.”

May we all be like the COFFEE.

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Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous socializing opportunities through events and travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+ (mostly Boomers!) active and single adults.                                                                       

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Contribution by littlethings.com

Now Is The Best Time Of Your Life

life

This is an article written by Elaine Ambrose and I wanted to share it with you. Life is full of happy times, challenging situations and change is always inevitable. I believe that a positive attitude makes all the difference, no matter what age or circumstance surrounds us. Hope you enjoy and may this be, right now, the best time of your life!                                                                                                                               

During the week, July 20, 1969, I was a counselor at a camp in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho. That’s the day American astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first human to walk on the surface of the moon. We loaded the young campers into buses and drove them to a parking lot in the remote mountain town of Ketchum. A small black-and-white TV was hooked up in the parking lot with the power cord strung inside a grocery store. We huddled around to watch history being made 240,000 miles from earth. Even the most rambunctious pre-teen became speechless while watching the grainy transmission.

“This is the best time of your life,” I told them.

Four years later, I graduated from college, earned my first full-time job, and got married. Then I knew it was the best time of my life.

As the years passed, there were other milestones: a new house, a new baby, a new job. Then more houses, another baby, and more jobs. Then I received a contract to write a book. Could it get any better?

Of course, there were painful times, too. A divorce. The loss of a job. The deaths of my parents. I lost friends. I was badly injured in a car wreck. Those were the days I doubted if there would be good times again. When dark clouds hid the stars and moon, I had nothing to wish upon, and I almost lost hope.

But another day brought adventure and happiness. The kids grew up, were happily married, and had wonderful children. I discovered a wonderful world of new women friends. Surely, then was the best time of my life.

Wrong again.

I recently returned from a trip to New York. I received a writing award and was on stage in front of thousands of conference attendees. The same day of the award, I met with a New York literary agent who offered to represent me with my next book. I know for the next few months I’ll be writing into the wee hours, and I’ll pause to gaze at the moon with the same wonder and amazement that I felt 46 years ago.

Now is the best time of my life. This day.  And, tomorrow could be even better, so I am willing to anticipate that happening. I’m 63-years-old, and I’m not done. There are grandkids to hug, books to write, adventures to take, friends to spend time with and charities that need my time and resources. But right here, right now, it’s the best ever.

Someday, when I’m older and grayer, I’ll rock by moonlight and knit magical sweaters from moonbeams.

Then, for sure, it will be the best time of my life.

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous socializing opportunities through events and travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+ (mostly Boomers!) active and single adults.

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org

Widowhood: How And When To Start Socializing

sadwomanFor the first year after her husband Mort died of cancer, Mary Childs, now 68, looked mainly to her two sisters and her quilting friends for comfort and a social connection. ”I couldn’t do much more than that,” says the Lakewood, CO, retired nurse. ”On the one occasion that I attended a couples’ function with friends from our past, I was totally uncomfortable.” Indeed, many people who lose a spouse often feel like when it comes to socializing, it’s a couples’ world.

About a year after Mort’s death, Mary felt ready to start taking baby steps to move on and meet new people. “Mort had been a hunter and had promised to teach me how to shoot,“ she says, “but we never got around to it.” When a shooting range, started by two former SEALS, opened near her home, Mary decided to learn what she had missed with husband. “I met so many wonderful people at target practice,“ she says, “and I even started entering competitions around the country with many of the people I met locally.”

Why move on socially?

Lots of people who lose their husband or wife feel like it’s easier to be alone and not deal with the anxiety and other pressures associated with being social. But humans are wired to be social creatures. Our well-being is based largely on interactions with others. (The amount and kind of interaction varies, but the need is inherent.) To avoid connections is to invite depression. Not surprisingly, a study at Michigan State University discovered that people 65 and older who used the Internet to stay in touch with friends had a more than 30 percent reduction rate of depression symptoms. In other words, no matter the age, people need people. In person, on the phone, via the Internet, whatever.

How do you know when it’s time to move on?  

There’s no magic answer to this question. For those who maintained a social life based on interests and not just couples’ friends, the journey is a bit easier. Likewise for those whose partner’s death was not unexpected. Four years ago, Barbra Cook, now 62, lost her husband of 36 years after his 10-year-battle with early onset Alzheimer’s. “Several of our couples’ friends drifted away during Morris’ illness,” she says, “but I was determined to both sustain and build a life for myself after he died.” During his illness, she continued folk dancing, a lifelong passion she and Morris never shared. Today, she enjoys both salsa and tango.

For others, the journey may start a year or more after the loss. According to Doreen Horan, LCPC, at the Counseling Center at Stella Maris, an average a man starts socializing within one to two years of a wife’s death. For women, the average wait is two to five years.  What all grief counselors agree on is that at some point, every widow and widower needs to get out there if life is to be meaningful once again.

How do you start?   

Planning your re-entry to a new social life is not done overnight, says Erlene Rokowsky, Psy.D., a psychologist at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology. She suggests these steps before you take action:

  1. Take an inventory of who’s already in your circle of friends. Who do you want to keep? Whose presence is more toxic than comforting?
  2. On a frequency continuum from every day to a few times a month, what is your need for human interaction?
  3. On a relationship continuum from intimate to communal, what level of connection do you need? (The introvert may be more comfortable at a book club than one-on-one. The extrovert may need a variety of relationships.)
  4. Assess what need your spouse filled and what you now miss. Was he/she your confidante, your movie partner, your source of laughter? Do you have a friend who can fill that need?
  5. Revisit these steps periodically to figure out what you want to add or take away.

When you’re ready to rebuild your life, says Kim Gordon, the bereavement coordinator at Hospice of Westchester in New York, here are good ideas for meeting new people:

  • Join a health club and take a class. Besides getting in shape, you’ll meet other people who like the same exercise as you.
  • Take your dog to obedience class.  Nothing like other crazy-in-love-with-my-dog people to bring strangers together.
  • Throw a party. We’re not talking intimate get-together, but a Super Bowl or election party that doesn’t rely on twosomes for success.
  • Buy two tickets to an event and invite someone to go with you as your guest.
  • Volunteer –  volunteers are always needed and welcomed at organizations like hospitals, school, fundraisers, etc.
  • Find someone to teach you a new skill. Relationships are built over common interests. Besides, it’s flattering for the one being asked to teach.
  • Join a group or organization that caters to your demographic with people who share your circumstances.

Rebuilding your social life after loss is about personal growth. This does not mean that you are forgetting or ignoring the impact of your loss, but you still are who you were—and you can choose, moving forward, how you want to live in order to be your best and happiest self.

Article Contributor:  Grandparents.com and Sally Stich

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous socializing opportunities through events and travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+ (mostly Boomers!) active and single adults. 

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org             

Five Experts On The Positives Of Growing Older

boomers22

We so often hear about the drawbacks of growing older.  Instead of thinking of life as a gradual decline, maybe it is time to start thinking of how life gets better as we go along—and that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

You’ll Be Happier-As it turns out, most grumpy older people used to be grumpy young people. Aging doesn’t turn a cheerful person into a grouch.  To the contrary, research shows that, as we age, we become more emotionally stable and content.  In early adulthood, there is alot of what-ifs?  Am I going to find a soul mate?  Have a child?  Build a rewarding career?   Then you spend the next few decades striving to achieve goals.  But when you’re older, the what-ifs have been resolved.  So this means less stress and you can relax.” (Laura Carstensen, 57, is a psychologist and director of the Stanford Center of Longevity, in Stanford, California)

Wise Decisions Will Come More Easy-Scientists used to think that we lose a significant number of our brain cells as we age, but more sophisticated scans have debunked that theory. We now know that we hit our cognitive peak between the ages of 40 and 68. Through the years, our brains build up connections and recognize patterns—meaning we’re better problem-solvers and can more quickly get the gist of an argument. It’s the reason why judges and presidents tend to be middle-aged or older, and why Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger was able to land that airplane on the Hudson River. Older brains can swiftly make the right calls.” (Barbara Strauch, 59, is the science editor of the New York Times and the author of The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain)

The Fashion Police Will Be Off Your Back- “Go ahead and wear five-finger running shoes or funky sandals. No longer must you prance around in painful heels. Now you can climb steep steps past young wobblies in magnificent toe-crushers. It is worth it, knowing that one of the greatest contributors to longevity is moving—fast, on flat feet.” (Gail Sheehy, 74, is the author of PassagesSex and the Seasoned Woman and 14 other books.

You’ll Know Who You Are– “A sense of urgency comes with aging. Before I was 75, I was tentative about many things. But now I know my own voice, and most important, I have the confidence to use it. Today I’m blogging and giving speeches and participating in all sorts of activities that, honestly, I would have been incapable of doing when I was younger.” (Betty Reid Soskin, 89, is a full-time park ranger for the Rosie The Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historic Park, in Richmond, California).

You’ll Have Time On Your Hands-If you’ve been driving yourself for years—working, raising a family, or both—it’s an adjustment to have spare time once your job has slowed down and the kids have flown the coop. The good thing about getting older is that you’ve seen it all, lived it all, felt it all—and now you can take a moment to share what you’ve learned. I dedicate many of my hours these days to mentoring people: I’ve helped friends’ children choose careers and advised a friend on how to start the second chapter in her professional life. I can’t think of a way to spend my time that is more gratifying.” (Anne Kreamer, 65, is the author of Going Gray and It’s Always Personal)

Individuals are now living well into their 80’s, 90’s and past 100 and the life span will continue to grow.  Start determining your aging prophecy today by celebrating and embracing each day, each month, each year and the triumphs that they may bring.

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous socializing opportunities through events and travel, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+ (mostly Boomers!) active and single adults. 

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

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