Storms and Aging

Below are excerpts from a most interesting article that caught my eye this morning. Click on the title below for the full article.But first I am in the middle of a storm here so I had to put in a photo taken off my balcony. We don’t get a lot of tornadoes here, at least not in Kitchener, but the warning applied right here.

The most threatening part of the storm moved through fairly quickly followed by rain, thunder and hail storms. We could use a good few hours of rain but I am not sure that will happen, It’s still a dark and stormy night here but a normal one. The Kind I like.

So what got me so excited about the article below? You probably already know Judith, my partner here at AWA, and I fully embrace not embracing the ‘expected’ idea of aging.

This article says pretty much how I feel. And it expresses it better than I could. I do hope you will enjoy it.

We’re Thinking About Aging All Wrong, According to a Longevity Expert

Aging can be an uphill slope, with the right perspective.

“Stop telling people in their 20s that these are the best years of their lives. They’re not.”

That’s straight from an expert with decades of psychological research focused on aging—so you can trust her that you haven’t left your best years behind. Laura Carstensen, Ph.D. is the founding director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, where she studies motivational and emotional changes that occur with age and the influence these changes have on the way we process information.

1. The ‘work, then retire’ model needs serious rethinking

People are living longer than ever—and that means we need a new life map, Carstensen says. 

A 100-year-long life may soon be common, but our society isn’t set up for it. “The social institutions, economic policies, and social norms that evolved when people lived for half as long are no longer up to the task,” she explains. “The resulting narrative around an ‘aging society’ seems to convey only a crisis, ignoring obvious opportunities to redesign those institutions, practices, and norms and bring them into sync with the health, social, and financial needs of 100-year lives.”

One problem, as she sees it, is this: “When we are working, we are working too hard, and then when we’re retired, we’re retired too hard. Working for 60-80 hours a week isn’t good for anybody and retiring for 30 years isn’t good for anybody.”

In her research, Carstensen found that across the board, people were not as cognitively sharp after they retired as they were when they were working, except for one group of people: Those who were in high-complexity jobs who retired for one year and then went back to work in some capacity. These people were in better cognitive shape than those who had continued to work steadily. Instead of working full-time for 40 years and then retiring completely, Carstensen proposes that “we need breaks…we could take these thirty years [of “retirement”] and put them anywhere we want.”

2. Seeking happiness is no way to live

Carstensen is not a fan of what she calls a “happiness agenda” that’s sprouted up in recent years—it puts too much pressure on meeting an unrealistic goal, and can be surprisingly harmful to mental health: “Seeking happiness is almost doomed to fail,” she says.

“It’s constantly hurting people when we tell them they should be happy and making happiness a goal,” says Carstensen. She adds that there’s also an expectation for partners to make you happy and “if they don’t make you happy, you leave them, and that really makes you unhappy.” 

The real key to happiness is learning to process mixed emotions. According to her research, Carstensen says “the richest emotional states we have are the ones with mixed emotions.” People at older age are much better equipped to do this than younger people. They can appreciate the whole experience for what it is, all the good and all the bad and everything in between. As we age, we can feel things such as bittersweetness with a much higher level of understanding.

3. Instead of looking to the future, live in the present

It’s easier said than done. We spend all our formative years thinking about our futures, and the present tends to pass by without our noticing. But living in the moment is an essential part of what makes older people feel content, Carstesen says. Older people tend to focus on and remember more positive than negative information, something she calls the positivity effect.

In her own research, Carstensen has learned that older people have a much easier time living in the moment. This is likely because as we get older, we realize that time is running out eventually, and there isn’t a long future ahead of us to plan for. Therefore, we pay more attention to things as they happen and we struggle much less with being in the present.

Wherever you are in life, though, you can “enjoy the moment you’re in and recognize it while you have it,” says Carstensen.

4. Invest less in the idea of wisdom, more in creativity

The idea of being wise from all your years of life experience is pushed on old people—but there isn’t actually any proof that older generations are wiser than young ones!

“It is true that older people solve hotly charged conflicts better than young people,” according to Carstensen. But this is “less about age and more about perspective and the distance from the event…You sound wise when you say ‘when I was in my 20s or 30s I thought this’ but it’s dependent on the distance from you being that age, not how old you are today.”

Carstensen’s research shows that “when it comes to solving personal problems, new problems, older people don’t do any better than younger people.” This makes sense. If you thought about the same problem for 50 years, of course you would have an easier time solving the issue than when you had first experienced it. New problems are just as hard for us to solve at any age.

So, now here at North of 43 I am off to watch the storm. A very fine activity. When my boys were young we would gather under shelter and blankets and watch. Ver moving.

Chris G Aug 3rd ‘22

Good grief I had so much to tell you but it has been overshadowed..

Let me pour a glass of white wine before I start.

Okay. I was going to talk about best laid plans and all that. I had mentioned that Moonwatcher51 was coming to visit for a few days. And how we had been friends for 25 years etc etc. (If this was Grace and Frankie I would be Frankie and she would be probably too.)

So this is Monday at North of 43 and this past Saturday our province was hit with a huge storm. The kind that killed nine people. You already know Canada has a panorama of weather possibilities and very vibrant seasons. But this event was quite foreign to us.

Lots of damage, the least of which was loss of electricity. Now here is the southwest of Ontario our power went out but was restored pretty quickly. For me it was but a flicker but longer for rural areas.

Here, today, my schedules and planning skills went for nought on a much minor scale. First the coffee maker died – oh and it’s a holiday and stores not open. I spent way too many hours working on the blessed thing (not really my word of choice), and finally gave up and pulled out my kettle. Hot water filtered through paper towel and ground coffee it is. Tried the grounds in my French Press but it is too fine a grind.

Then the toilet plugged. (the loo in more polite terms). I did have a plunger that I bought at the dollar store sometime ago. Word of advice *NEVER BUY A PLUNGER AT THE DOLLAR STORE. That thing folded like tissue paper in the water. It plunged nothing.

I spent way too much time filling a bucket with hot water and pouring it into said porcelain throne to no avail. Finally called a friend, borrowed hers and voila – in seconds the problem is fixed.

Okay back to Moonwatcher51, that intrepid Road Warrior. Nothing stops that girl. Oh except no gas. She is ready to make the five hour trip from the Ottawa area here, except, NO POWER MEANS NO GAS FOR HER CAR.

She is trying to find how far she has to drive to find gas to drive here.(400-500 Km).

Stay tuned. The toilet works, her bed is freshly made up, and there is coffee after a fashion. And the wine supply may dwindle but there will be enough.

Just got a message! She has passed Kingston. About four hours away! Wow!

So from North of 43 enjoy your day. Must run out to corner store for cream!

Chris G May 23rd, 22

In like a Lamb Out like a Lion????

Photo by Pixabay on

I woke up to ice this morning. Falling from the sky.

The actual saying is: In like a lion, out like a lamb. Some years that works out, others not so much.

According to the Farmers’ Almanac, the weather folklore stems from ancestral beliefs in balance, meaning if the weather at the start of March was bad (roaring, like a roaring lion), the month should end with good weather (gentle, like a lamb).

I like how it says ’Freezing Rain possible’ as ice was hitting my window

But it does seem to have paused. I guess the best word for this moment is dreich as I described in this post here.

So this has become a Writing Day staying dry, warm, and hopeful. On my window sill sits a harbinger of spring, the perfume of which takes me to fields of flowers, rustling trees, chirping birds…well you get the idea.

Hyacinth waiting to go outside – weather permitting of course.

So from North of 43 I wish you a pleasant day regardless of weather!

Chris G March 30th ’22

The aftermath of pleasurable viewing

A couple of days ago I wrote about the lovely storm, how it looked, and how cozy it was on this side of the window.

My sister – who is younger but still a LOL ( little old lady), like me is about half the size of the gent you see above.

She lives in a house that requires shovelling snow. Like me she prefers to ignore the LOL part and carry on with vital chores of life – like shovelling snow.

She has 2 of these machines, one small, one large, though both appear too large for me. She used both not just to clean her drive, deck and sidewalk but those of multiple neighbours (5 I think)

SNOWMAGEDDON: City declares ‘major snowstorm condition

This headline from The Toronto Sun says it all – and also says it will take a week to clear clogged roads. There was a large city bus abandoned on the road in front of my building for most of the day Monday.

Roads closed, accidents, digging out, all things that covered a swath through southern Ontario and to the east. Strangely, northern Ontario where you expect this kind of thing was spared.

My youngest sister – a LOL in training – was staying with her son and daughter-in-law a couple or three hours north of here and she said they had none of this.

The photos below which I took from our CTV news site says it all much better than my words.

All emergency services were challenged
At least kitty has head above the snow
Roads are still good for some transportation
And finally – when you can do nothing else, Canadians go skating!

Now a few days later it is normal winter minus14C, a bit cloudy, but all in all pretty nice.

Have a wonderful day y’all, enjoy what you can, change what you need to, and otherwise hang in, hang on.

Chris G

North of 43/80 West Thursday January 20, 2022