Aging Well in the Gorge July 26th 2016

Often I’m surfing the Internet and I start following one link after another with no idea where I’m going. Last week as I was following those rabbit trails, wasting too much time, I unexpectedly came upon the website Brevedy and a blog post by Mark Frankel called “Positive Psychology and Valuing Meaning over Happiness”.

That caught my interest because what I usually find are articles about how to find happiness: “Five Stages of Happiness”; “Researchers claim to have found the ‘Happiness’ gene”; and “Money actually did buy me happiness” for example.

But how does happiness relate to meaningfulness?

Each person has their own understanding of happiness, but a widely held view is that happiness is the same as pleasure or positive feelings. And if you maximize the positive feelings and reduce the number of negative feelings you are happier. Right?

But in the Brevedy blog post, Mark Frankel, points out that this view is challenged by Martin Seligman, the father of Positive Psychology. Seligman suggests there are several different routes to happiness: the Pleasant Life, consisting in having as many pleasures as possible; the Good Life, which consists in knowing what your strengths are, and then re-crafting your work, love, friendship, leisure and parenting to use those strengths; and the Meaningful Life, which consists of using your strengths in the service of something that you believe is larger than you are.

Although these routes may overlap, according to recent research published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, there are significant differences between a happy life and a meaningful life including the following predictors.  

1. Satisfying one’s needs and wants increased happiness but was largely irrelevant to meaningfulness. 2. Happiness was largely present-oriented, whereas meaningfulness involves integrating past, present, and future. For example, thinking about future and past was associated with high meaningfulness but low happiness. 3. Happiness was linked to being a taker rather than a giver, whereas meaningfulness went with being a giver rather than a taker. 4. Higher levels of worry, stress, and anxiety were linked to higher meaningfulness but lower happiness. 5. Concerns with personal identity and expressing the self, contributed to meaning but not happiness.

The search for meaning, doing something you believe in that addresses a higher goal than just your own enjoyment, is an important aspect of what makes us human.

But can you live a meaningful life and be happy? I believe so. But you’ll have to change your expectations that happiness is only pleasure driven and void of stress and conflict. It can be hard and challenging.

There are plenty of opportunities to give back – if you still have some gas in your tank. At the Volunteer Fair there were over thirty-seven organizations looking for volunteers.  Giving yourself for a higher calling, can bring great satisfaction and meaning. And a whole lot of happiness.

Thanks to the Center members who attended the Annual Membership Meeting last Tuesday. And a big thanks to Nelda and the crew from Cherry Heights Living for providing a delicious dinner everyone raved about.

My goodness, next week is August all ready - which means Andre, KC and Tom will be playing at the Center on Tuesday, August 2nd. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 7:00, and donations are appreciated.

Also next week on Thursday, August 4th from 5:00 – 7:00 PM The Dalles Art Center’s reception will be held for the “Gorge Artists Create” Exhibition. This is the art center’s annual open juried show and this year’s theme is "Architecture". The reception is sponsored by Carolyn Wood and The Mid-Columbia Senior Center.

The name of the voluptuous character who was hopelessly in love with Lil’ Abner was Daisy May Scragg (her maiden name before she married into the Yokum clan) who lived in Dogpatch, Kentucky. (The winner of a quilt raffle ticket is Bill Van Nice.)

This week’s “Remember When” question is about the 1958 novelty song “Beep, Beep” sung by the Playmates. It describes, in an increasingly faster tempo, a Cadillac being followed and then passed by what make of car? And for bonus points, as he passes the Cadillac going 120 MPH, what does the driver yell at the Cadillac? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with a picture of the AMC's assembly plant in Kenosha, Wisconsin from the 1950’s.

Well, it’s been another week waiting to see what comes my way. Until we meet again, don’t let the sun catch you yawning.

“May your choices reflect your hopes and not your fears.” Nelson Mandela

Aging Well iin the Gorge July 19th 2016

Your current house is no longer working for you and you’ve decided to move. But you also know moving is no easy chore, and you would like this move to be your last. So what should you look for in a house that would be suitable for the rest of your life?

That is the question Sharon Johnson, associate professor emeritus at Oregon State University, and her husband asked themselves when they decided to move from their two story Victorian house in southern Oregon.

She knew from her work in the field of healthy aging, as well as personally, that most adults over fifty want to remain in their home for as long as possible. But she found it difficult to find a house that would accommodate the challenges they may experience as they grow older. So they decided to build.

But before they built, they wanted to know what to consider when building the house for the rest of their lives. To that end, Sharon assisted in the collaboration between the Rogue Valley Council of Governments and AARP Oregon to create a voluntary evaluation program called the “Lifelong Housing Certification Project”.

The certification program includes a comprehensive checklist of features as a way to assess the "age-friendliness" and accessibility of rental apartments, new construction and existing houses. It benefits the buyer by setting a standard to make it easier to identify lifelong homes; and it helps guide the builder on how to construct a house that will be livable for a lifetime.

To give you an idea of what should be included in a lifelong house, the following are some of the features on the checklist.

No step entrance from sidewalk, rear patio and garage; all doors (interior and exterior) are 36” wide (allowing wheelchair access); open, spacious floor plan; hallways 45-52” wide; ADA compliant appliances in kitchen; electrical outlets 22” from the floor; light switches 42-48” from the floor; rocker-style light switches; all doors and faucets are lever or hands free; raised washer and dryer in utility room; walk-in, roll-in, no door shower in master bath; easy-open windows; low maintenance yard; and raised flower beds. Most of these changes can occur without adding significantly to building costs.

If you want to learn more or view the complete Lifelong Housing Certification Checklist, go to the Rogue Valley Council of Governments’ website at and click on the link for Lifelong Housing.

Even though I can’t remember what I write from week to week, especially if there is a long holiday weekend in between, Pat Davenport can as she reminded me that last week I had forgotten the answers to the Brain Rattlers from the week before. So if you were wondering, (or maybe you’re one of those smarty pants who knew all the answers), here are the answers: 3 ducks, Mt. Everest, Melissa, the match, and triplets. Now if you can’t remember the questions, you can go back through your old Chronicles or go to the Center’s web site at and find the post for July 5th, 2016.

Next Tuesday, July 26th, at the Center, Country Road will be playing for your dancing and listening pleasure. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 7:00, and donations are appreciated.

The name of the Walt Kelley comic strip that included various animal characters living in the Okefenokee Swamp was POGO. (The winner of a quilt raffle ticket is Bill Van Nice.)

I’m sticking with comic strips for another week, but I hope this question will be a little easier. Li'l Abner is a satirical American comic strip written and drawn by Al Capp that ran from 1934 to 1977. For this week’s “Remember When” question what was the name of the voluptuous character often wearing a polka-dot peasant blouse and cropped skirt who was hopelessly in love with Lil’ Abner? And for bonus points, what was the name of the town where they lived - described by Al Capp as "an average stone-age community nestled in a bleak valley, between two cheap and uninteresting hills somewhere"? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with a family portrait of the Yokum family.

Well, it’s been another week taking nothing for granted. Until we meet again, enjoying the good life isn’t about sitting back and resting, but getting up and doing what you can.

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about dancing in the rain.” Vivian Greene

Aging Well in the Gorge July 12th 2016

Your house is full of “stuff” you have accumulated since your children were born: family pictures, your children’s school work, and all their ribbons and trophies. And now you want to downsize before a time when it might just be too hard to sort through everything. But what should you save for your children that they would actually appreciate and keep? And what should you throw away or recycle?

It is something I have been thinking about since my children have left home, and recently I found an article on the Next Avenue website suggesting the following items that are often overlooked when considering what to give your children.

1. Your first passport with the country stamps from all the worldly places you visited during your more adventuress days.
2. Your military discharge papers which your children may need to help you get services, but also because it’s always fun looking at old papers from those days way back when.
3. One printed photo of your wedding - that you can actually hold in your hands. I wonder how our grandchildren will be sharing pictures with their children. On a thumb drive?
4. Something belonging to the oldest living relative they know and care about.
5. A sentimental piece of jewelry. Not necessarily something they would wear, but something meaningful to you such as the watch you received from your dad when you graduated from college. 6. An old receipt with a date on it to prove you aren’t lying when you talk about how much things use to cost. Yes, gas did cost twenty-nine cents a gallon (when there were four gas stations on every corner); and there was a time when we were afraid a loaf of bread would cost more than a dollar.
7. The photo of the first time you held them - because the first time is always special.
8. Highlights of their childhood. That does not mean all the little league pictures or the ceramic hand prints – which I still have. But report cards, especially with teacher comments; or their acceptance letter to college.
9. The dog tags worn by their childhood pets or pictures of their furry friends.
10. Your favorite music - in a format they can use such as an iTunes playlist. But no eight tracks or cassettes, although they may still have a CD player.

Not all of these suggestions I found useful, but they reminded me that it is often the little treasures your children will find special and appreciate. And they may even give you an opportunity to share some stories from the good-old-days.

The Center’s Annual Membership Meeting for 2016 will be on Tuesday, July 19th starting at 3:00. There will be an election of board members, a financial report and an update on the Elevator Project. After the membership meeting, you will want to stay because at 4:30, Cherry Heights Living, our neighbor to the north, will be literally giving you a taste of what it is like to live there by providing a Pot Roast dinner with all the fixins for members at no cost.

I thought the Center would be back on the regular music schedule, but no, I was wrong. I want to thank the band Shades of Country (although for some reason I keep wanting to say “shades of grey”), for filling in tonight for Martin and Friends. But next week, on the 19th, we will be back to the usual line-up with the Simcoe Boys playing for your dancing and listening pleasure. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 7:00, and donations are appreciated.

The Baseball Hall of fame pitcher, who spent his entire 18-year career with the Yankees was Whitey Ford. (The winner of a quilt raffle ticket is Jess Birge.) I always enjoyed this comic strip because of its social and political satire. So for this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of the comic strip created by cartoonist Walt Kelley that included various animal characters: possums, alligators, owls, turtles and porcupines living in the Okefenokee Swamp? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it with a t-shirt with the quote “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Well, it’s been another week trying to take the long way around. Until we meet again, it may not always be the same, but it could be better.

“Don’t take life so serious. It ain’t nohow permanent.” Porky Pine

Aging Well in the Gorge July 5th 2016

Today there is tremendous interest in keeping your brain sharp, fit and tanned. And last week I shared several techniques to help remember what you are trying to learn. In addition, there are many brain activities being promoted to strengthen your brain. But which ones actually help? To help choose the best activities to work your brain, ask the following five questions.

1. Is the activity challenging? The activity should force you to concentrate and pay close attention. You may feel frustrated and discouraged. But don’t stop. If it doesn’t push you, it may not provide the necessary workout your brain needs. 2. Is it progressive? Now here is the second part. As you learn the skill, the difficulty needs to increase so you can continue challenging yourself. You can’t rest on your successes, but instead use them to motivate yourself to try the next level. 3. Does it engage several of your brain's processing systems? You should try to use different parts of your brain in the same activity. For example as you dance - under dimmed lights to your favorite romantic song, following your partner’s firm lead and appreciating his masculine cologne, try eating a sloppy Big Mac. 4. Is it rewarding and surprising? If you don’t enjoy the activity and find it interesting, you probably won’t be doing it for long - unless you are a glutton for punishment. So make it fun and reward yourself - maybe with some brain healthy dark chocolate and a small glass of wine?

Okay now that you know the questions to ask, how about a few Brain Rattlers that are fun, challenging and get progressively harder – at least in my mind. I’ll provide the answers next week.

1.) If there are two ducks ahead of a duck, and two ducks behind a duck and one duck in the middle, how many ducks are there?
2.) Before Mount Everest was discovered what was the tallest mountain on earth?
3.) Melissa’s mother has seven kids. Their names are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. What is the seventh child’s name?
4.) In the dead of winter you are in a house with only one match. There is a gas lamp, a fireplace, and a wood stove. Which would you light first?
5.) Two boys are identical in appearance and have the same parents. One was born five minutes after the other. These two boys are not twins. How is this possible?

Whether you try memory techniques or challenging Brain Rattlers, the bottom line is to keep learning, keep moving and keep trying something new every day.

Paint parties are a great way to enjoy an evening out: having fun creating your own painting to take home. To make sure you aren’t missing the fun, Meals-on-Wheels has scheduled a braveART paint party fundraiser on Friday, July 8th at 6:30 PM at the Center. For $40 per person, all supplies are provided as well as light refreshments with all proceeds supporting the valuable work of Meals-on-Wheels. To purchase tickets, contact Jenny Loughmiller at

For the Center’s Tuesday Night Music last week, I almost had two bands show up. My apologies to Bob, Roger and rest of the Country Road band for my mess up. But the Center is back on the regular schedule, so on the 12th, Martin and Friends will be playing for your dancing and listening pleasure. Doors open at 6:00, music starts at 7:00, and donations are appreciated.

The name of the popular animated series of short films, first created in 1940, about a cat always trying to catch the same mouse (and also the name of a winter holiday drink) is Tom and Jerry.  

For many young baseball fans’ in the 50’s, like myself, the New York Yankees was the team you loved to hate - winning eight American League pennants and six World Series during the 1950’s. For this week’s “Remember When” question, who was the Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher, who spent his entire 18-year career with the Yankees winning 236 games? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it to the Center with a #16 Yankee jersey.

Well, it’s been another week slapping on the sun screen. Until we meet again, isn’t it true that as you grow older, you don’t have to worry about avoiding temptation. It will avoid you.

 “Never make predictions, especially about the future.” Casey Stengel


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