Benefits of Writing

Blogging - JournalingAre you a blogger or one who journals? Do you do any kind of regular writing? For some of us, it is a habit that started in our youth and is just part of our life. For others, we may write regularly for a while and then not for some time, and come back to it. It may be a habit that you don’t ever question. Or you may question the benefit of writing consistently. It’s possible you never have done this kind of writing.

I am a sporadic writer, although in the past months my blogging has become more regular and frequent on my business blog. I also do occasional posting on a personal blog.

There are various styles and purposes for journaling and for blogging. There can be benefit in trying out different styles and writing for different purposes at various stages of your life.

My mother didn’t journal as we think of it now, but she wrote in a diary every day for over 50 years. She usually used 5-year diaries that she purchased and which provided about 4 narrow lines per day. I have those diaries and they certainly provide a view into her daily life over the years. The emphasis was on what she did, what was going on with the family, and what the weather was. (Her diaries include high and low temperatures daily for those 50+ years in southern Wisconsin!) It is quite a treasure to have.

This is an example of very simple, regular writing that has value for the writer and those who read it later, if you choose to make it available.

Recently I read an article that listed seven ways that a habit of regular writing can improve our lives after age 50. Here they are:

• helps you clear the mind
• aids in the recovery of one’s memories
• you will be able to stockpile ideas
• improves your verbal and writing skills
• puts your life events into perspective
• you will feel like you have accomplished something
• it’s a great mental exercise

Author Eileen Williams summed up the benefits this way: “It is the best exercise for the brain. It enables the mind to relax, think freely with no stress. It keeps you fit and in good shape.” The entire article is on her blog, Feisty Side of Fifty: Benefits of Writing

Consider experimenting with different styles and purposes of blogs or journals if you already are a regular writer. If you are in a hiatus from a previous pattern of writing, give it another try – perhaps in a different style.

If you have never tried, write in some style for 30 consecutive days and see how you like it and if you begin seeing some of the benefits listed above. If you don’t know how to start, here’s a book that can give you ideas:  The Journaling Life: 21 Types Of Journals You Can Create To Express Yourself And Record Pieces Of Your Life

I would love to hear about your experiences!!

 

Patterns and Milestone Experiences That Transform

Experiences TransformOne of the joys of getting older – let’s say 50 and beyond – is that we can look back and see patterns and milestones in our lives. Seeing the patterns can be instructive and helpful in many ways. In early mid-life, most of us experience the intensity of jobs/careers, community involvement, family relationships to nurture and support – and more. As we move into a different phase of life, we can take time to do this.  Experiences transform, and reflecting on them can be part of transforming your life after 50.

I will share some of my experience with this kind of reflection.

Some time ago, I had the opportunity to be one of several presenters who shared personal stories with a group from my church. It was a wonderful opportunity to look back and identify some patterns in my life. One of them was “expanding horizons” and I also identified milestone experiences that had shifted my life in new directions. Each of us can likely identify ways in which our horizons expanded and how that impacted us.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. captured the essence of that by saying, “”A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”

I found it quite enjoyable to look at that pattern as if I were floating high above, getting the view from the drone, if you will. In my case, I saw an image of concentric circles and that pattern of expanding horizons. I could recognize experiences that launched me from one circle into another, and later into another as the years passed. The changes were more than geographic and included mental, spiritual, emotional and psychological expansions.

The geographic concentric circles started from growing up in a small town in Minnesota, to college in two other midwestern towns, to a summer in core city Chicago, Illinois to much of my adult life in inner city Minneapolis, Minnesota to a couple of years in suburban Orange County, California to the past eight years in Nashville, Tennessee. I can see concentric circles of relationship with a wider diversity of people and of awareness of regional and cultural differences.

In addition to these overlaid concentric circles, I can identify milestone experiences that changed the direction of my life in different ways. The first dramatic milestone was the summer spent in Chicago when I was 19 years old. It was a city immersion program sponsored by the American Lutheran Church in several cities around the country, with our team of six people coming from a small college in Decorah, Iowa. Prior to this, I had lived in homogeneous small towns, both growing up and in my prior two years of college.

Then here we were, working full time jobs and doing neighborhood work in the rest of our time out of a city church located just on the edge of the demarcation line between a white community and a black community. Oh – did I mention: it was the summer of 1966!! Tensions were high in cities across the country as the civil rights movement was in its peak years. During that summer, Aug. 5, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was in Chicago for an open housing march through an all-white neighborhood and he was hit in the head with a brick or a rock. This was the mood of the time.

The experiences of that summer turned my attention to being involved with the social issues of the day, and gave me clarity that I wanted to be involved in things that made a difference. As a result, I left college and moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota where I would spend my years from 20 to 60 living and working in the inner city.

I encourage you to reflect on the patterns and milestones in YOUR life. It will be life-affirming and may open up some possibilities for you to explore as you are transforming your life after 50.

I encourage you to get a nice journal that you really want to write in.  I love the “Tree of Life” motif, and these are refillable, which is a plus.  Check out this version using my affiliate link: Tree of Life Writing Journal

Innovation Around Housing for Seniors – Your Parents Now, You Later

InnovationThe Baby Boomer generation has been responsible, directly and indirectly, for vast changes within society as they moved through the life cycle. Sometimes we forget all that happened from the time of our large cohort being born after the end of World War II and through about 1964. It started with the housing boom as the young families being formed after the (mostly) men returned from military service. The whole list of innovations, revolutions and changed viewpoints is clearly more than I can address in this post.

Now this generation is changing what it means to be over 50, and especially over 65. There are multiple facets of this, but the one I want to talk about here is about housing and care beyond independent living. Baby Boomers are 71 and younger right now, and have dealt or are dealing with these issues for their parents. What is created now will impact us as we move into the ages where we cannot live alone in our own homes.

An extremely exciting project addressing this need is MAGIC, a pilot project being conducted in connection with the University of Southern Indiana (USI) in Evansville and Dr. Bill Thomas, a nationally-renowned expert on aging.

MAGIC is aimed at creating a cultural transformation related to aging in community (Read the full release). With support from AARP, Indiana AARP and numerous stakeholders, we will pioneer a new (and very old) way of living. MAGIC stands for: Multi-Ability, multiGenerational, Inclusive Community.

Our goal is to bring together people of different ages, with different abilities and from different backgrounds, and look at ways to inspire and sustain a genuine human community….

We will kick off the MAGIC Pilot Project this spring by co-designing a model smart home. This “MAGIC Model House” will serve as a demonstration home showcasing the latest accessibility design, smart-home connectivity and low cost modular prefabrication methods I’ve developed through my Minka Dwelling project. We designed the Minka as an affordable housing platform that can be adapted to meet the needs of people of different ages and abilities.

The full article can be found here: I Believe in MAGIC

What exciting possibilities there are in this project, and others that will be inspired because of it. We truly can change the depressing scenario embedded in many aging persons’ minds of ending their years in a nursing home that fails to provide a good quality of life for them.

The numbers, though not as current as would be most helpful, are these: “The aging of the baby boom generation could fuel a 75 percent increase in the number of Americans ages 65 and older requiring nursing home care, to about 2.3 million in 2030 from 1.3 million in 2010.” Source:  Fact Sheet: Aging in the United States from the Population Reference Bureau.

Alternatives such as MAGIC can be effective in improving quality of life in our later years. It’s time for the creativity and innovation of our generation to focus more on this and similar issues. I can hardly wait to see what we can do!!

Dr. Bill Thomas is an expert in aging issues. His book, Second Wind: Navigating the Passage to a Slower, Deeper, and More Connected Life covers a wide range of important topics.