Boomer Blahs

I’m beginning to appreciate the subtle shifts that can happen when we retire and don’t have all the props and externals sources of stimulation to motivate us, provoke our actions, and give us feedback on what and how we are doing. These days, quite a few people I know are either retiring or thinking about it. A few seem genuinely excited at the prospect, a couple are a bit tentative and worried about how they will fare, and a number seem matter-of-fact about it (they’re kind of just doing

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Aches & Pains II

By Marilyn Hay

This is the second post in a two-part series.

Changes and adaptations to my arthritis didn’t end with learning to manage pain or finding new and fulfilling things to do at home. I could no longer manage the spiral staircase where I was living—I came close to falling enough times that it scared me. And the long, brutally cold winters in Winnipeg brought even more constant, relentless pain. I couldn’t bend well enough to get boots on, so was often confined indoors, unable to negotiate the snow. The idea of house-hunting was exhausting and I really didn’t know where to begin looking. I just knew I needed somewhere that wouldn’t get as cold in the winter and, hopefully, wouldn’t have as much snow.

Luckily,
just as I decided I needed to move, friends discovered a new adult
housing development being built in British Columbia, so I didn’t need
to do any house-hunting. I bought a unit online and I’ve lived here for
over two years now. I live in a bungalow now, so no stairs to worry
about. In spite of the fact that the prolonged winter rains and damp
aggravate my joints, I love it. At least I

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Poland Remembered IV

By Stu Whitley
Bio

This is the fourth in a four-part series.

During his entire life, my father has adhered to a habit of truth—‘truth’ in that he has not been afraid to question the ‘why’ of a thing. This included the way in which the past influences the future, and his determination to manage events to the extent that it has been possible.

“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it,” he’d say.

This
was nowhere more apparent than in his decision to emigrate to Canada to
seek a better future for all of us. Three homes in three countries
within the span of a decade:

my childhood in England droppedbelow the horizon of the grey Atlanticen route to a different life in a new worldwell I remember a worn train groaningto a halt for us in a remote northern townof tarred felt paper, clapboard and tin

two brothers and I jostled our way
to the smoke green Pullman cars
only to be yanked back sharply
by a skinny old man in a pillbox cap
declaiming ‘Canadian National Railway’

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Approaching Retirement

It seems to me that everyone who is thinking about retiring should take some time to think about the future. When we retire, we’re not just entering another phase of life: we’re at the beginning of a new journey into an entirely new and very different territory. The closest analogy I can think of is the transition from my educational life in university into the world of work and career. No matter what I thought it would be like and no matter how much information and advice I got, it was all

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Organizational Exits

I had breakfast yesterday with an old friend and client who is a government executive. We were talking about people we knew, many of whom had retired in the past few years. She was sad and disappointed to report that, although they had left voluntarily, many were resentful, feeling like they were tossed out and no longer needed. As we talked, I realized how seldom we take the time to manage the retirement process in large organizations in such a way that retirees feel acknowledged, appreciated

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Navigating the Turning

By Shae Hadden
Bio

David Korten’s opening remarks addressed all present at this conference as ‘navigators’ of the Great Turning. I find the term interesting: navigators, in effect, act as leaders. They are responsible for guiding the ‘ship’: they envision arriving at the destination, chart a course to it (however tentative or uninformed), and then direct the actions of others to make that ‘vision’ reality. I agree with Korten that leaders are of critical importance for navigating the sweeping transformations happening in our world today.

I was somewhat surprised to see
that most conference participants appeared to be in their late 40s and
up. The few younger people who were present stood out from the crowd.
Korten noted in his closing remarks how most audiences he speaks to are
comprised of older people in their 50s and 60s, and that there is a
need to attract younger people. Perhaps their absence is indicative of
the fact that North American society does not, for the most part,

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Menomorphosis

At my men’s group meeting this weekend, my friend Vian was observing that as we aged, most of us middle-aged men seemed to be emerging from a kind of chrysalis and that we were in various states of becoming ‘butterflies’. After a few chuckles at the metaphor, we had to admit that, on the back side of our middle-aged crisis, we were a lot more mature, a lot more comfortable in our own skins and a lot more grateful, humble and serene than at earlier

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Poland Remembered III

By Stu Whitley
Bio

This is the third in a four-part series.

The new museum dedicated to the Battle of Warsaw is a compelling place to visit. It opened the weekend we arrived, and the queue stretched around the block. But after being informed of Dad’s participation in the battle, we were afforded special treatment, moving quickly to the head of the line. Serious deference is paid to elders. People give up their seats on trains and trams; seniors are acknowledged in the streets, especially those who, like my father, wore the pin bearing the insignia of the resistance, a stylized ‘P’ with curving feet. He did not wear the Cross of Valour, awarded to him in absentia, for sustained courage in the face of the enemy. This an honour I only learned about recently.

Two days earlier, we had walked the street across from Saski Gardens,
where dad had been dug in. It is a broad roadway now, flanked with new
buildings for the most part. At the intersection of
Marszalkoska-Krolewska boulevards, he pointed this way and that with
his cane, to mark the presence of the German Army behind what were then
trenches in the park, and where lay the heaps of rubble in which he and
his

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Aches & Pains

By Marilyn Hay

Some bodies weather age better than others. In my case, arthritis has invaded my whole spine and all major joints, so my mobility has diminished quite significantly over a relatively short period of time. While I was never much of an athlete, I was always on the go, with energy to burn, traveling pretty much constantly in my job and for pleasure … And then, because of the unbearable pain and attendant exhaustion, I just had to stop. I couldn’t do my job any longer.

I
scarcely remember the first two months of this change of lifestyle as I
spent most of the time sleeping. When I woke up enough to really look
around, I realized I was no longer the person I had been.

And that’s a hard awakening.

There are so many aspects to this kind of sudden and significant life change.

I
had to deal with feelings of grief over the loss of what was, guilt
about no longer being able to do my job (and the relief I felt, as
well, that I didn’t

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Letting the Body Speak

By Shae Hadden
Bio

My very first job was as a nursing assistant in a chronic care hospital. At the tender age of 14, I donned my starched nurse’s cap and white uniform to spend several hours each day tending to those who could not care for themselves. Natural processes critical to the body’s survival—eating, drinking, defecating, urinating, moving, breathing—had become a moment-by-moment challenge for many of the people we cared for. Most had lived in this state for innumerable years—there were few new faces in the wards and even fewer visitors during the two summers I worked there.

The
thing that struck me most about the patients’ lives was the silence—the
absence of any sounds of life emanating from them. The few exceptions
were the ‘babblers’. The music teacher who sang a music only she could
hear and who conducted the world with her hands permanently wrapped in
bandages to protect them from the damage she inflicted on them. The
50-year-old man confined to bed and paralyzed from the waist down with
a libido

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