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Just like you, we at the Cantata Best Life Foundation are on our own best life journeys.  Our blogs are opportunities for us to explore ideas, share and learn from our experiences, connect with others, and inspire new possibilities.  We invite your thoughts.

Until Now

I’m not a big fan of New Year resolutions. I am reminded of their best intent when I go to the gym in January and can’t use the treadmill because the club is so busy. By February, many of those good intentions to get back in shape have waned, and I no longer need to fight the crowds to get to the treadmill.

So New Year resolutions have never moved me. Until now. This year I want to fine-tune my outlook on life. In light of all we read in the news, the national and international struggles, the day-to-day noise, I think I could use an attitude adjustment.

I don’t want to focus on what’s not working. I want to focus on what’s good in my life and what’s going RIGHT in the world. Ever notice that wherever there are bad things happening, there are good people doing good things to make them right? That’s what I want to celebrate in the coming year.

So…I choose not to live a life guided by fear or mistrust. I choose to appreciate what is good and right in my life and in the world. And with that attitude adjustment, I will push back on life when it pushes me over. I will join all the others out there who share a determination to make life good and right.

You know what? 2016 is gonna be a great year!

Harvests that Nourish Body and Soul

Gardening is vital to Best Life for plenty of people, from foodies to eco-activists to folks who simply enjoy a green thumb. But which crops grow best in urban and suburban settings?

Fresh Ideas to Chew On

Gardens are all about potential -- we plant seeds, then water them with the hope of eventually growing something that will provide beauty and nourishment.

New Partners, New Possibilities

Sometimes the best friendships develop in the most unexpected places. We’re honored to be collaborating with several organizations that might surprise you....

Advice for the Entrepreneur Within You

For years Julie Holloway worked in corporate America and felt like a fish out of water. About five years ago she left that world and successfully launched her own freelance design business. She offers the following advice to others who want to build their own business or take on other new life adventures....

Satisfaction Guaranteed

We are all very well practiced these days at being good consumers. Experience teaches us how to scout out the best value, and how to demand that sellers of things deliver us unconditional satisfaction for whatever we buy. This is the basis of the marketplace. It is the way we collectively can establish reliable standards of quality and price for items we commonly consume.

Certainly a knowledgeable consumer perspective can help us to obtain the best car, or the best internet service provider, or the best imported beer. But when it comes to helping us get our Best Life, that’s a different story.

While fine things (like cars, the internet, and even beer) can add pleasure to our lives, our Best Life is not for sale in the marketplace. It’s not achieved by passive consumption of anything. It cannot be provided to us or for us. And it cannot be guaranteed by others, regardless of the quality of the goods or services they may deliver to us.

With Best Life, we’re on our own. We travel many roads on the Best Life journey, meeting many from whom we learn, and sampling many experiences. But ultimately our satisfaction can only come from the integrity and effort we bring to the journey.

Guaranteed.

Satisfaction Guaranteed

Thank you from the Cantata Best Life Foundation!

Thank you to everyone who joined us on July 10 to celebrate president emeritus Dennis Sonnenberg’s first 40 years of service to Cantata. The Room rang with music and laughter as we recognized Dennis’ trailblazing work of the past decades ... and as we looked toward the exciting possibilities of his work in the coming years. Truly, we’re looking at the future of aging through a new lens – and that future looks bright!

 

3 Tips for Joyful Downsizing

Thank goodness for transition.

Without it, I would still be a terribly shy kid afraid of what’s out there in the world. You might still be geeky, too - or you might not have gone to the college you loved, or you might have stayed in a bad relationship.

Growth, in life, is nothing without transition.

Yet as we age, transition takes on a new emotional intensity. Or perhaps the issue is this: Transition in later life can seem to signal the end of a phase, whereas in youth it seemed to signal the beginning.

In my vocation, I spend a lot of time with older adults who are downsizing. Though the physical work is hard, addressing mind-set can be harder. For some, the transition from a long-time family home to an apartment or senior living community seems like a death sentence. On the contrary. Relieving the burden of caring for a home, cooking for a family and driving everywhere should be liberating. It should be an adventure!

When the time comes to clean out a family home, it is important to stay positive and see the easier life ahead. At the same time, it’s essential to recognize that emotional connections to things can present a downsizing challenge that is bigger than the items themselves.

Tea set

In December, for example, I spent days with an incredibly smart and active 86-year-old woman, going room-by-room through her home of 40 years to help her decide what to take with her to an assisted living facility. In addition to her full house of furniture and clothes, the woman had her wedding china, her mom's wedding china and several sets of everyday china. Her new assisted living community had asked her to pare her dinnerware down to four glasses and four plates.

This is emotionally brutal stuff.

When helping a parent or friend decide what to keep, donate, toss or sell, recognize their emotional ties and memories ... then concentrate on how these items can bring joy and functionality to a new owner.

Some suggestions include:

  • Gift items to younger relatives and friends who will bring new life to them. Young families may truly appreciate a treasured christening gown, crocheted blanket or copper teapot. An avid fisherman would love to display great-grandpa’s hand-tied lures.
     
  • Document major family events for future generations. Compile an album or find a website that allows users to upload pictures of items so physical mementos can be more readily dispersed.
     
  • Digitize important family documents and pictures of special items that can then be quickly and economically shared. Let everyone enjoy them!

I hope all older adults who are transitioning will eventually enjoy a more stress-free, adventurous lifestyle than they could while caring for many possessions and a large home.

But first things first: Be sensitive out there!

 

Meredith Morris
Owner, Caring Transitions

Caring Transitions helps clients declutter, downsize, sell, donate and dispose of their belongings. The organization transitions residents from their current homes to new settings, often senior living communities, by assisting with floor planning, packing, move management and unpacking/resettling. Caring Transitions specializes in estate sales and online auctions.

Groucho Glasses and Lifelong Learning at the American Society on Aging

Main Image

Groucho glasses!

Last month, we hosted an energetic and inspiring Jam Session at the American Society on Aging (ASA) conference. The 25 Best Lifers who joined us range from 40 years old to more than 70, and hail from all over the country—New York and Georgia to Colorado and Hawaii. Thanks to our new friends for sharing their insights so freely. (And we were happy to see so many of you wearing the “Groucho glasses” we distributed after the session to remind us all to continue having serious fun throughout the week!) You’re teaching us a great deal as we continue the conversation with many of you.

During our Jam Session—and at the other ASA programs we attended throughout the week—it became clear that our call to build “ageless communities” resonates with virtually everyone. A few related issues also came up:

  • What’s good for older adults is typically good for young families too. For example: To draw both age groups to public parks, spaces need to be designed with plentiful seating, regularly spaced drinking fountains, and walkways wide enough to accommodate strollers and people walking side-by-side.
     
  • Those of us who work with older adults also need to address the needs of the generations that follow—particularly GenXers and Millennials, whose voices often seem to be missing from our conversations.
     
  • Semantics are important—and revealing. Why do we so often speak of “investments” in youth but “expenses” of older adults? Thinking about community differently means talking about it differently as well.
     

How to Lead with Your Heart

ROAR!

A colleague recently addressed a group of emerging leaders and challenged them to lead with “ferocious kindness.” In the context of this particular speech for this particular audience, the call to lead with the heart as well as the head was offered as a point of inspiration.

Since then, I’ve wondered: How can the concept of “ferocious kindness” pertain to Best Life?

To be ferocious is to harness power with intention. To be kind is to assert the heart. Together, these two concepts describe a fierce determination to take compassion beyond feeling and into action.

Ferocious Kindness

To me, that’s what happens when we pursue our chosen purpose with a clear plan and execute it with real passion. That’s Best Life.

So let’s get ferocious!

 

P.S. I'd love to hear...

your answer to this question: What do you think is the best part of getting older? →

 

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