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When the Dream Gets Bigger and the Climb Longer December 30, 2010

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It’s like climbing a mountain and you don’t know exactly what lies ahead. The cliffs have jagged edges and are very steep with the rocky bottom no where in sight.   You reach one peak and discover there’s another one looming even higher in front of you.  Are we being told to stop, turn around, go back?  Or is it a test of will power, inner strength, perserverance, confirmed craziness?   You trip and fall, dragging yourself through the murky water.  What’s that old Buddhist proverb? “Fall down 7 times, get up 8”.  Good thing I’m not counting.  Brush the dirt off your bloody knees and get back up!   Like at a railroad track, STOP and LISTEN for signs that you’re on the right track, or shift tracks and keep puttin’ one foot in front of the other.  We don’t need to know how we’re going to get there but it would be alot more comforting, for sure!    Sometimes a dream can feel like that mountain with a winding path that seems endless at times and questions our own sanity…or should I say mine?     

This is when the gift of a qualified Mountain Guide is important…even with dreams.  Ageless Dreamer is grateful they have perhaps found a Mountain Guide to help them over their own mountain and through the jungle of tigers and bears, Oh My!   I’m going to lean on a quote that George Seaton said and is used in the the movie Miracle on 34th Street: “Faith is believing in things, when common sense tells you not to.”   Call me a dreamer with faith, I guess.  Thanks, George.

Goose Bumps from the Thrill of Hope April 18, 2010

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When did you last experience the goose bumps from the thrill of hope?  It’s enough to make your heart skip a beat.  For us the thrill of hope arrived in an email announcing Ageless Dreamer as a semi-finalist for the www.ShowUsYourGoodness.com Program.  Imagine being one of 33 non profits out of 2800 applicants? And the ONLY New Hampshire non profit.  Any one can vote, just once, at the website above or through the www.AgelessDreamer.org web site.   $ 20,000. is the top prize, with two $ 5,000. prizes, and twelve $ 1,000. prizes. But the thrill of hope is one heck of a prize in itself.  We’re elated at the possibility.  Voting ends on April 30, so if you have 45 seconds to spare, please VOTE for Ageless Dreamaer to become one of the most inspiring charities.  You might also get to feel that utterly delicious thrill of hope!  Thanks for your vote, dear readers.  P.S. Don’t forget to try the Gourmet Brown Rice Crisps put out by the sponsoring company called RiceWorks.  Tough to select a favorite but the Parmesan & Sundried Tomato is a huge favorite with Sweet Chili next on my list.  Will try another flavor this week!

Remember When Most Homes Had Only ONE Bathroom? February 20, 2010

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Born and raised in Massachusetts, I was the middle child of five daughters. No brothers. Oh, did I tell you there was only one – yes, one – bathroom in the house? I’m sharing that with you because maybe it’ll help explain why I’ve always been a dreamer. Maybe I was dreaming of having more than one bathroom.

As Founder of a non profit organization, Ageless Dreamer, I immersed myself in encouraging our oldest generation to dream out loud. The idea came to me ten years ago when I went to the mailbox and received my first invitation to AARP. I circular filed it, of course, but realized that I was about to cross into someplace that I’d never been. Then I noticed, as I walked the sidewalks of the town in New Hampshire where we live, that there weren’t many old folks walking around. Where were they? And I began to notice that when I drove by assisted living or nursing home, or other similar places, that I didn’t even turn my head to look.

My husband and I started visiting these places and after a few months realized something very important: It didn’t matter if someone lived in the least expensive or most expensive senior living arrangement, if no one knocked on your door to visit and share stories, then stories and dreams were left untold. Constipated, if you will.

AARP doesn’t give up easily, so once again when I went to the mail box, a second invitation arrived which I also proceeded to recycle. But this time as I threw it into the blue plastic bin, I declared: I’m not an AARP-er. I am an ageless dreamer. The rest is history. You can learn more about that on the website: http://www.AgelessDreamer.org

This book is about stories of our oldest generation who are living and ageing successfully at home. It’s about our own futures and the lessons we can learn on how we can remain in our own homes as we age. Planning for that is important, both from a financial perspective, and a well being perspective. They’ll certainly be other options for many people, but this one option of ageing at home, is the one I’ll be capturing through stories shared with me.

With the 100 year old being the fastest growing demographic today, it’s very likely that the vast majority of Baby Boomers will grow to be part of that demographic. The wisdom, knowledge, and talents of today’s elders – also known as the Greatest Generation – will provide inspiration and insight into what we have to look forward to.

If you know someone who’s part of the oldest generation who’s successfully ageing at home and would like to share the story in this book or future ones, please send it to me at lauriewidmark@comcast.net. I’ll look forward to hearing from you.

Riding a Harley in Heaven November 3, 2009

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Live for the ride.  That was Lura Johnson’s motto when she turned 100 years old in 2006 and for her next couple birthdays.  But it was her 100 and 101st birthdays that produced her signature smile and wave: Lura was a passenger in the sidecar of a Harley!  Thanks to her daughter who remembered to ask her Mom if she had a dream,  and the help of Ageless Dreamer, Lura’s ageless dream came true and she was one happy gal.  On November 1, 2009 Lura decided, at 103, that she was ready to ride a Harley in heaven and we trust she is.  To Motorcycle MaMa J.: Thanks for sharing your spirit and believing that you’re really never too old to dream. Ride on, smile on, and wave to us in our dreams!

Lura waving from Harley 2006 with THEN photo

Lura famous smile and wave

The Secret of Life according to Philharmonic Conductor Ben Zander September 14, 2009

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Yes, I’m hooked on the book: The Art of Possibility.  I keep finding the brilliant nuggets that keep bringing me back to how it relates to Ageless Dreamer.  Ben writes about a Taiwanese student who, “in a brilliant flash”, had hit upon the secret of life. This student realized that the “labels he had been taking so seriously are human inventions — it’s all a game.”  The student explained it this way: “I was number 68 out of 70 student. I come to Boston and Mr. Zander says I am an A. Very confusing. I walk about, three weeks, very confused. I am Number 68, but Mr. Zander says I am an A student….I am Number 68, but Mr. Zander says I am an A. One day I discover much happier A than Number 68. So I decide I am an A.”

And so today, I am going to give the idea of Ageless Dreamer an A.  A great big giant A.  If it’s all invented anyway, I’m going to choose to invent something that, as Ben Zander says, “brightens our life and the lives of the people around us.”  It may be that Ageless Dreamer is re-inventing itself so that it will spring board up, instead of spiral down — as he calls it.  In the “university of possibility, you set the context and let life unfold.” That’s exactly what I intend to do with Ageless Dreamer. 

Thank you, Ben!

Assumptions about Old Age challenged by Benjamin Zander September 12, 2009

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That’s where Ageless Dreamer and The Art of Possibility naturally come together.  In his book, The Art of Possibility, Ben Zander writes about a talk he was invited to give at a Jewish home for the elderly (pg.64).  When he arrived at the rather dingy hall 10 minutes before he was to begin only one person was sitting in the fifth row of a bank of folding chairs. The woman, Sarah, chatted with him for a moment and he asked her to move up to  a seat nearer the front. Sarah declared: “I always sit here.”  Ben good-naturedly challenged her, saying, “who knows, Sarah, if you change your seat maybe something new will happen today.”

“Are you crazy? At my age?  I’m eighty-three!”  By now, Ben writes, she was standing, and, as if to prove him wrong, she actually moved, from the fifth row to the fourth. After wondering if anyone else would be coming to hear him speak the remaining chairs gradually filled and shortly after he scheduled time to begin a sizable group was ready to begin.  It turns out, Sarah was by no means the oldest; one member of the audience was 103.  The topic was “New Possibilities”. 

Ben shared some heartfelt stories  about his Father and his wonderful sense of humor. The audience laughed and sang with him “igniting the air in the once-dingy room.”  And this is where I yellow highlighted another sentence he wrote: “We challenged assumptions about old age and pointed toward some new beginnings.”   So does Ageless Dreamer.

That’s what Ageless Dreamer, since January 2006, has been working to do – challenge assumptions about old age. Encourage our oldest generation to dream out loud and remind caregivers and adult children to engage them in conversations that enhance their quality of life.  And, as author Elizabeth Coatsworth wrote when she was in her eighties, “When I dream, I am ageless.”  So am I.

The Art of Possibility and Ageless Dreamer Go Together like a Fluffanutter September 10, 2009

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Oh my gosh, I’ve been reading the book by  Rosamund Stone Zander and her husband/Conductor Benjamin Zander: The Art of Possibility  and the first practice – It’s All Invented – begins like this:

A shoe factory sends two marketing scouts to a region of Africa to study the prospects for expanding business. One sends back a telegram saying,

SITUATION  HOPELESS  STOP  NO  ONE  WEARS  SHOES

Th other writes back triumphantly,

GLORIOUS  BUSINESS  OPPORTUNITY  STOP  THEY HAVE NO SHOES

How does this relate to Ageless Dreamer you might ask?  If I change the word SHOES to DREAMS it helps me realize this non profit is on the right track reminding caregivers and adult children to encourage our oldest generation to dream out loud.  The author “had me” in the first paragraph of the first chapter.  To some, who see no shoes (DREAMS), all the evidence, as he says, points to hopelessness.  To others, the same conditions point to aubundance and possibility.  He ends the paragraph as follows: “Each scout comes to the scene with his own perspective; each returns telling a different tale. Indeed, all of life comes to us in a narrative form; it’s a story we tell.”

So if I use me, the Founder of Ageless Dreamer, as an example, and I’m open to shifting my underlying assumptions (page 15), I would ask myself the questions he poses:

What assumptions am  I  making,

That I’m not aware I’m making,

That gives me what I see? 

That is not an easy question,  but  I’m working on  the  answer so that I can work on “What might I now invent, That I haven’t yet invented, That would give me other choices?”

 

USA-GIVES and GIVES and GIVES August 8, 2009

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An amazing idea was born almost a year ago by a couple on the Seacoast. USA-GIVES believes that a million people in this great country will give $ 5. or $ 10. each to a non profit to build an endowment.  The definition of an endowment is also shown on their website. Well, looks like USA-GIVES is doing just that for Ageless Dreamer.  You can check out their website www.USA-GIVES.com  and their new blog!  Thank YOU, USA-GIVES!!

Eighty-Nine and Feeling Fine June 30, 2009

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Charlie, 89 years old, has been a widower for two years. He continues to live alone, with his bedroom on the second floor, cooking small meals for himself. . An interesting thing happened recently while I was visiting my 87 and 90 year old parents who live across the street from Charlie.

My folks and I were sitting on the lawn swing, when Charlie ventured across the street to join us. After casual chatting for a while about the “usual things”, my Mom, who’s been very attentive to the development of Ageless Dreamer, blurted out: “So, Charlie, do you have a dream?” Lo and behold, Charlie mumbled a little about having done “pretty much” everything he wanted to do in his life. “Just a little lonely now that Claire is gone.” He had cared for his wife at home for four years before she died from Alzheimer’s. Do the neighbors next to you every visit?, I asked. “Nope. Not even a wave. They’re 30-something year olds. Don’t care or even notice. Just your folks, here. Your Mom makes a little extra food for meals and brings me over a plate. And your Dad – well, he mows my lawn with his tractor, and when he opens the barn door there I know it’s ok for me to come over and sit and visit awhile.”

With the silence hanging a little heavy on the squeaking swing, I decided to see if I could keep the conversation going light and alive, so I asked Charlie: What did you used to do together with Claire? He turned his head to look at me and a gentle grin appeared on his face as he said, much to the surprise of even my parents: “Bowl”.
And he wasn’t talking about a bowl of cereal. And now you know the rest of the story … will be in my first book!
Copyright Laurie Widmark 2009

When I Dream, I’m Ageless June 30, 2009

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Last night I might have been ageless, but I couldn’t sleep so I didn’t dream. I was writing in my mind the story of an untold dream. This morning, sitting at my computer, the white page syndrome stared right back at me as I could see my own reflection in the screen. Maybe I should Twitter instead.