Congratulations to the 2013 Purpose Prize Winners! The seven inspirational purpose prize winners this year each demonstrate how they use their wisdom and experience to make a difference in the lives of others. Health, veteran support, and parenting behind bars are some of passions of these inspirational elders. They are role models for us all.
Marika and Howard Stone, founders of 2Young2Retire, are past winners of the Purpose Prize. We appreciate the service of all of the purpose prize winners and the many other elders who are Too Young To Retire® and are focused on improving their communities and the world. For more information on this year’s winners, visit: http://www.encore.org/prize/meet-2013-purpose-prize
Increasing suicide rates among baby boomers has been widely reported in the press this week. Rather than analyzing the causes of the increase, my thoughts went to how the 2young2retire® community help those affected by suicidal thoughts and those left behind after such a tragic end.
Much of the work of 2young2retire® facilitators is in creating small communities for connection and conversation. Conversations can be about careers, health, financial matters, travel, relationships, or any other topic of interest. Members of the group can select the topic. Reflecting on the past is interesting but looking forward with purpose can stimulate positive thinking and new directions. We all face challenges in our lives but what can we do to help those in greatest need, those who think life is simply not worth living, find something positive?
Reach out to someone today. Create a conversation that matters between two people or a larger group and stimulate some positive thinking.
If you haven’t already discovered it, check out Dr. Bill Thomas’s new idea: http://changingaging.org/ A way to get your blog out to the public as part of a ‘blogstream,’ and improve the chance of going viral with a post or idea that you feel strongly about. That’s the only reason you would blog anyway. Most of us, Pioneer Woman — Martha Stewart on the range — notwithstanding, don’t make a living from a blog. Even if you’re passionate about your subject, getting started as a blogger is the easy part. Sustaining the effort at the same high caliber may not be. Even Seth Godin who sends stuff out every day, isn’t brilliant 100 per cent of the time (but 95 per cent ain’t bad).
If you have an idea for blogging to the mature age group, I encourage you to sign up for the Changing Aging blogstream and see what other savvy older adults have to say about a wide range of subjects. And just for good measure, here are a few of my favorite blogs in no particular order. Why they make the cut will be self-evident: idiosyncratic (good) and with content is both informative and fun to read (even better). Most posts are short, or if not, at least the germ of the piece is in the lead, so you know right away if it’s your cup of chai. Enough said:
- SquawFox Frugal fun from a young, savvy Canadian
- Green Skeptic My friend, Scott Edward Anderson’s enlightening (pun intended) blog
- Zen Habits Beautiful design and thoughtful prose on slowing down.
- Six Word Memoirs Not strictly speaking a blog, but inspiring the way a blog can be. Try writing your own Six Word biography.
- Slow Food USA How to slow down and savor the flavor.
- Poetry Blogs A doorway to all things poetry
Are online communities replacing real ones?Â Have you noticed that most people are gazing into a hand-held device rather than making eye contact? Have you observed how many people are plugged into their private world of music? Do you have to pull your grandkids away from their Wii or other video game to play Monopoly or toss a ball around? Are you using email to 1. send birthday greetings (guilty!), 2. offer sympathy, 3. get something off your chest (ouch)?
I couldn’t live without the Internet and my cell phone but the way we are today makes me nostalgic for the years I lived in Hoboken, NJ, a true walking town where every errand could lead to a conversation, a collaboration, a dinner invitation or even (so I heard) a proposal of marriage. On a fine summer evening, we would sit on our stoop on 11th Street and chat with neighbors on theirs, or with passersby. A neighbor and I planted flowers in the divider down the middle of our street one summer, and when I go back there, it still makes me feel really happy. I felt very safe living there, knowing a lot of my neighbors, the restaurant owners, the local merchants. Building community the old-fashioned way is still possible. Here are a few ideas on how to get started.
Turn off your TV and/or computer. Leave your house. Look up when you are walking. Know your neighbor. Sit on your stoop. Greet people. Plant flowers. Use your library. Play together. Help a lost dog. Share what you have. Buy from local merchants. Take children to the park. Garden together. Read stories aloud. Dance in the street. Talk to the mail carrier. Listen to the birds. Put up a swing. Help carry something heavy. Donate what you are not using. Have potlucks. Support neighborhood schools. Fix it even if you didn’t break it. Ask a question. Open your shades. Ask for help when you need it. Hand write a thank you note. Pick up litter. Hire young people for odd jobs. Turn up the music. Turn down the music. Organize a block party. Start a tradition. Share your skills. Bake extra and share. Honor elders. Barter for your goods. Volunteer your time. Take back the night. Sing together. Learn from new and uncomfortable angles. Listen before you react to anger. Mediate a conflict. Seek to understand.
(Thanks to Mary Barknecht, a Voluntary Simplicity workshop leader based in New York City, for the tips.)