Offer a Gift of Love

February 22nd, 2018 Comments off

Jessica, our five-year-old granddaughter, came skipping towards me cradling something in her hands. “Look Baline! (her special name for me) Look, what I made for you!” Her little face was beaming with joy and anticipation as she gently opened her hands to present me with her gift.

There, carefully cradled in her hands was a leaf sandwich—a dark green leaf stuffed with colorful buds. Its beauty took my breath away. As I hugged Jessica and thanked her for this precious gift, I thought, “What a beautiful expression of love!”

Jessica’s gift carries an important message during this month of St. Valentine’s and romantic love.

We did not need to fly around in a frenzy trying to find just the right card to say, “I love you”. Nor should we concentrate our expressions of love on one day of the year. Instead, let’s do what comes naturally to a child.

Offer a gift of love! Offer an expression of love when the spirit moves you. Express your love in multiple ways throughout the year.
We each need love at every age. It is our sustenance and emotional energizer at every age and stage of life.

There are many ways to express love, including a dark green leaf sandwich stuffed with colorful little flowers. Love is our greatest gift.

Bonnie Fatio

Find Someone To Love

February 19th, 2018 Comments off

When I cheerfully wished a friend Happy Valentine’s Day, her response surprised me. She moaned, “Ha! Maybe it’s a Happy Valentine’s Day for you, but I have no one to love”.

Her response set me thinking. Is it possible to have no one to love? It is true that with aging comes the loss of loved ones, often a change in where we live and our activities. These can bring the feelings of loneliness and even abandonment, leading to depression. It may seem to us that we have no one to love, but is it really possible to have no one to love?

If this is true, then how can we change the situation? How can we find others to care for and love? In my book, AgeEsteem, the chapter on The Power of Purpose opens with this personal quote: “Having a purpose enables us to step outside of our own needs and problems, to focus on new opportunities and to renew our energy as we take action”. Scientific research and my own personal experience shows that to have that sense of belonging, of being loved and loving others, we must have a purpose in our lives, a reason to get up in the morning and to look forward to the day.

The trick is to reach out to others. Find a volunteer activity where you can benefit others with your talents and personality. Do you like children and have energy to care for them? Why not help a neighbor with her little ones once or twice a week? Many children are begging for help with their homework. Youth are in need of older mentors to guide them. Join a team to fold flyers or decorate for a party. Read to the blind. Opportunities are countless once you begin to look into volunteering.

Nothing is more fulfilling than to think that you have benefited the life of another. Seek your immediate purpose. Forget about yourself for a minute and reach out to others. Richard Branson, multi-billionaire, says that what gets him up in the morning is the idea of being able to make a difference. Doris Blunt, a retired school teacher, would get up with a smile each morning because she was the “sunshine” of the home she lived in. We each have a purpose. Find yours, and you will also find someone to love.

Bonnie Fatio

An AgeEsteem Valentine Wish

February 14th, 2018 Comments off

May you

Smile with affection at your reflection in the mirror.

Stand in awe of the sun as it sets, stimulating a palette of colors across the sky.

Reach out to another person who seems lonely or sad or simply in need of a friend.

Open your mind to hear the opposing views of others.

Find a way to dance, sing and play each day.

Accept gifts and help from others.

Hold the hand of a child and the hand of an elder.

Laugh with complete abandon.

Feel happy and valued and loved.

Hug someone spontaneously.

Praise others lavishly.

Encourage, support and open opportunities for others.

Feel gratitude for the goodness of each day.

Tell others unabashedly that you love them.

Share your talents and recognize your contribution.

Yes, these are what I wish for you on this day of celebration of love. They are, after all, what love is all about.

May Every Day be a Day of Love!

Bonnie Fatio

A Chance Encounter

February 12th, 2018 Comments off

A highlight of spending a few weeks in Florida age is to take breaks from my activities to walk on the beach and just enjoy “being”. There is something reviving and stimulating about splashing through the seawater as the waves wash up on the shore.

Yesterday walking on the beach I passed a woman searching among some scattered shells. Following the hurricane there are very few shells on the beach this year. I said this to her
as I walked near her and we struck up a conversation. 30 minutes later we were still talking. She fascinated me with stories of her multiple activities and her love of life.

She was definitely an AgeEsteemer. I learned that her activities included stimulating discussion groups, volunteering where she interacted with all generations, and traveling to the new and unknown. It was clear that she was living fully, keeping her mind alive, stretching herself further, and interacting with different people – which obviously included speaking to strangers on a beach.

Hmm. I wonder if she thought I was an AgeEsteemer, too.

Bonnie Fatio

A Lesson In AgeEsteem From Peanuts

February 8th, 2018 Comments off

Charlie Brown and Lucy have done it again! These cartoon characters of Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts” make me both laugh and ponder. They share such pertinent lessons.

In a recent cartoon, Charlie tells Lucy that he’s decided “this will be a year of decision”. He proudly shows her a list of things he is going to improve in his life in order to be a better person.  Lucy, who has a way of ruining the intentions of others, replies that she is “going to spend this whole year regretting the past”, crying over what she can no longer control. “Why did I do that?”

How often do you have a Lucy in your life, dimming your joy and crushing your enthusiasm? How often does a Lucy step into your day to tell you that you should not make that trip you have planned, or go out with friends in the evening, or even buy new clothes now that you are older?

If I were Charlie Brown, I would have dumped Lucy a long time ago. I don’t want to waste time regretting the past. I want to enjoy today!

An important aspect of aging well is to have people around you who encourage and support you in what you do, people of all generations who uplift you and who show AgeEsteem. You know the people I am referring to. They are the ones who live fully at each stage of life, who dare to act on their dreams, who have a meaningful purpose, who surround themselves with positive people of all ages, and who continue to contribute to society.

AgeEsteemers do not regret the past, they live in the present and embrace the future.

No, Lucy, I will not let your attitude spoil my joy of living.

Bonnie Fatio

Grandma’s Hands – A Story for All Generations

January 15th, 2018 Comments off

Thank you to Jack Levine, founder of 4Generations Institute, for sharing this inspiring story.

Grandma, some ninety plus years of age, sat serenely on the garden bench. She didn’t move but sat alone with her head down staring at her hands.

I sat down beside her. She didn’t acknowledge my presence and I wondered if she was OK. 

Finally, while hesitating to disturb her, I asked her if she was doing all right.

She raised her head and looked at me and smiled. ‘Yes, I’m fine, thank you for asking,’ she said in a clear voice strong. 

’I didn’t mean to disturb you, Grandma, but you were just sitting here staring at your hands and I wanted to make sure you were OK,’ I explained to her. 

“‘Have you ever looked at your hands,’ she asked. “I mean really looked at them?” 

I slowly opened my hands and stared down at them. I turned them over, palms up and then palms down. I realized I had never really looked at my hands as I tried to figure out the point she was making. 

Grandma smiled with a twinkle in her eyes and related this to me: 

”Stop and think for a moment about the hands you have, how they have served you well throughout your years.  These hands of mine, though wrinkled and weak, have been the tools I have used all my life to reach out and grab and embrace life. 

They braced and caught my fall when as a toddler I was about to hit the floor after running a bit too fast.

They put food in my mouth and clothes on my body. They tied my shoes and pulled on my boots. As a child, my mother taught me to fold them in prayer.

They held my pencil as I struggled through math problems and while I wrote poems about nature and people I liked.

They were clumsy when I held my newborn son and steady in kneading dough and stirring pots of soup.

Decorated with my wedding band they showed the world that I loved someone special.

 They held my husband tight and wiped my tears when he went off to war.

They wrote letters to him as he served in foreign lands and they trembled in grief when I watched my parents being buried.

They opened wide to welcome my returning hero and they patted his strong hands when he tearfully spoke of losing his buddies in combat.  

They have held my children and grandchildren, consoled neighbors, carried meals to the grieving and wrote checks to causes dear to my heart.

They shook in fists of anger when I didn’t understand how some people could be so callous to the detriment of others. 

They have combed my hair, washed my face and cleansed the rest of my body. They have been sticky and wet, bent and raw as I planted my garden and yanked out stubborn weeds.

And to this day when not much of anything else on my body works real well, but these hands still help raise me up, lay me down, and continue to fold in prayer. 

These hands are the mark of where I’ve been in joy and sadness and give silent testimony the ruggedness of a life well-lived. 

But most important it will be these hands that God will reach out and take when he leads me home for my final rest.”

I will never look at my hands the same again. I remember with resolute faith the day God reached out and took my Grandma’s hands and led her home.

When my hands are hurt or sore or when I stroke the face of my children, grandchildren and other loved ones I think of Grandma.

Her wisdom and wonderful loving nature live in me and all who were graced to know her, and to have touched those sensitive hands.   

Adopting Hygge To Beat the Winter Blues

January 11th, 2018 Comments off

Winter can become tedious and isolating as the snow falls thicken the air and icy sidewalks make it hazardous to walk very far. Add to this the shortened days which are often grey, and it is not surprising that people get depressed. This may be even more common for us as we age and are fearful of falls.

Several articles in the press are speaking about the Danish cure, Hygge. It seems that the Danish, who spend long winter months with very little daylight, are nevertheless rated as the happiest people. They attribute this to Hygge, which is a way of life with many commonalities to AgeEsteem. Among these is to create moments with others on a regular basis; do things that bring you pleasure and add pizzazz to your life such as singing, dancing, walking in nature; create a cozy atmosphere by using candles rather than electric lights. Another excellent suggestion in an article by Kate McCarthy for Next Avenue, is to “limit alone screen time” though she suggests the advantage of viewing special TV programs with friends.

Happiness, whether it be with Hygge or with AgeEsteem, is a choice. Another solution to beating the winter blues is to decide to be happy.

Have a happy winter!

A Guide for 2018

January 8th, 2018 Comments off

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou.

This quote is a great guide for each of us as we embrace this New Year 2018.

How have you made other people feel in 2017? What can you begin to do differently to inspire and empower others in 2018?

This is a valid question whether you are 12 or 92, whether you are mobile or confined to a bed, whether you are rich or poor. No matter who you are and what your physical condition, you are a role model for others. You have the power to make others remember you fondly and feel better for having known you.

Think for a moment about the people who have positively influenced your own life. What did they do to influence you?

Several former students of Shirley E. Pollock have said that she made them feel important, where others ignored them. What did she do? She showed genuine interest in them as individuals, with no judgment. She listened and reacted to what they said with further questions and interest, showing emotion that corresponded to what they said.

It can be as easy as that. What matters most is your frame of mind, your attitude. Here are a few thoughts.

  • Ask questions about what interests the other person.
  • Listen actively to her answers and ask further questions.
  • Forgive, and ask for forgiveness from those you have hurt.
  • Catch others doing something well and praise them.
  • Phone or write to someone to let her know you are thinking about her, and why.

People will never forget how you make them feel.

Bonnie Fatio

Start the New Year Fresh

January 4th, 2018 Comments off

Do you feel a bit overwhelmed as you begin the new year? Is there too much going on to be able to properly plan for the future? It is easy to feel overwhelmed as the holidays subside and the new year takes hold.

Here is a simple tip to wipe out the feeling of too much to deal with. – Clear out the clutter!

It is amazing the effect that a clean, uncluttered room can have on your mind and emotions. It is as though you throw out the mind clutter and emotional mess at the same time.

Does it make you anxious to look at the photo above with all the clutter? It does me. Think of what that same space would look like after the person had filled a few bins with waste and give-aways.  If you are like me, even just imagining it makes me feel lighter.

Try it in reality. Chose a room and begin to sift through the piles. Be ruthless. Throw things out! If you have not read something in the last six months or needed to refer to a paper for the last 12, throw them out. Have a shredding party. Next, get a couple of plastic baskets and use one for things to give away to the local charity or church bazaar. Use the other for the books that you will never read again and which could be useful in a library, school, or book sale.  It is freeing to see the top of your desk or table. Do a little bit each day. Within a week you will find that not only is your room less cluttered, so are you. – And your new year begins as a fresh beginning!

Bonnie Fatio

What a beautiful new year!

January 1st, 2018 Comments off

“What a beautiful new year! – I have never seen this one before.”

Yes, what a beautiful new year 2018 is!

Like everything else in life, 2018 will unfold into the year that I want it to be. – And I have decided that it will be a wonderful one, filled with happiness, meaningful moments shared with people who matter to me, opportunities to share my talents and to help others to grow theirs, celebrations, silliness and laughter, learning, teaching, singing, dancing, and doing all that I can to positively transform our world, one step at a time.

My wish for you for 2018 is
that your new year unfolds into the year that you wish it to be,
and that each day overflows with blessings and love.

Bonnie Fatio