My Daughter’s Wedding

On September 5 my youngest daughter got married. I'd like to share some of the pictures and memories from the wonderful day.

Shannon did a awesome job of of planning and putting together the wedding. In addition to helping raise a very active little boy who turned four the weekend before the wedding Shannon is starting law school and she worked full time up to two weeks before the wedding.  I am in awe of all that she accomplished. It was truly perfect.

Here are Shannon, My Dad, and and me before we left the hotel for Lover's Point in Pacific Grove where the wedding was held.


Shan Dad Me standing

And here are Shannon and her attendants.

Bride and attendants 

The ring bearer and flower girl waiting for the wedding to start. I always worry a bit when kids are in a wedding but they each took the job very seriously and did an excellent job.

Aidan and Juliana before the wedding

My oldest daughter Allison escorted me to my seat.

Allie and Me 

My grandson Aidan was the ring bearer

Aidan

And here is the wedding party waiting for the bride.

Aidan and party

The ceremony was beautiful. The minister read letters that Shan and Bill wrote to each other specially for the wedding about why they love each other. He talked about all it takes to make a marriage. I was so happy to have it all be so special.

The ceremony

The wedding included a sand ceremony. Aidan, Bill, and Shan poured sand together symbolizing their family. 

The sand ceremony 

The recessional music was the theme from Rocky. It was great! Everyone cheered including the casual spectators who happened to be spending Sunday afternoon in the park.

Bride and groom 

Aidan and Juliana 

I don't think they could have picked a more perfect place for a wedding.

Lovers Point

When we got to the reception Aidan took a nap in Lauren's lap. Notice that he has his favorite stuffed dog under his arm.

 

Aidans nap 

Then at the reception Aidan was ready to party. He said the grace before the meal and even gave a toast. The party was fun I think everyone including the kids had a great time.

Dancing 

Aidan toast

I'd especially like to thank Rose, Sylvia, and Roger for all these great pictures!

Chapter by Chapter Reactions to The Longevity Prescription by M.D. Robert N. Butler.

I am participating in a chapter by chapter discussion of Dr. Robert Butler's Book The Longevity Prescription on Ronni Bennett's Blog Time Goes By. The Longevity Prescription has a chapter devoted to each of Dr Butler's nine longevity prescriptions. I discussed the introduction in my last blog post but I think I will put my reactions to each chapter in this one blog post, adding to it as I read.

In the introduction to The Longevity Prescription Butler quotes Jonathan Swift, "Every man desires to live long; but no man would be old." Butler says that the aim of his book is to "offer the best strategies to live long and to live well." I want to live a long life but I also wan to be healthy and vital for as long as possible.

Prescription I – Maintain Mental Vitality

The first encouraging thing I learned in  is that although mental decline is most people's biggest fear it may not happen as much as we think.

"A number of studies have demonstrated that this decline is neither inevitable nor as severe as many people think. About 80 percent of older people report memory loss – but testing has found that such subjective reports are overstated. It appears that our fear of a fading memory exaggerates real but minor memory loss"

For me maintaining mental vitality is the most important aspect of living not just a long life but a long life lived well. I was very encouraged to learn that the idea of use it or lose applies to the brain too.

"The message is clear: You can take responsibility for keeping your brain in optimal condition."

"Momentum is gathering behind the notion that the use-it-or-lose-it rule applies to the brain just as it does to the musculoskeletal system."

I was discussing this with Duke and some friends last night and they rightly pointed out that we know of several people who did all the right things to maintain mental vitality but they still succumbed to Alzheimer's .

"This ailment has become the fear of many aging people, not least because of its prevalence: Roughly one in twenty Americans over sixty-five is affected, and the number rises to more like one in three after age eighty."

Butler says that although there are promising avenues of research into treatment and avoidance of Alzheimer's.

"However, living a healthy lifestyle is the best we can do at present to decrease our odds of getting Alzheimer’s.

My take away from reading Prescription I is that I can look at many of my activities like learning Spanish, writing this blog, and creating a podcast as ""Cognitive Calisthenics to exercise the reserve
capacity of my brain and its ability to integrate newly acquired knowledge".

I also need to think about regularly connecting with other people to take me out of old patterns. Apparently this may even promote brain growth. It is easy to settle into the familiar and regular but I think I will make this more of conscious goal in the future.

Ronni Bennett who I mentioned above is having a meet up her blogging community on October 9 in Portland and Duke and I are planning to go. I suspect that in general traveling is a good way to get out of my old patterns and meet new people.

Prescription II – Nurture your Relationships

I recently overheard a conversation at the senior living facility where my Father lives about how certain people weren't getting enough interaction with other people. I don't think my Dad would mind me saying he has never been a joiner. He can be a very gregarious person but he really dislikes socializing being forced on him. I can appreciate this and would never want to be forced to socialize.

On the other hand making social interaction an important part of my life makes sense to me .I am fairly introverted but I do have a wonderful husband and some really wonderful friends. Butler says:

"In adults, it is much the same: To thrive throughout life, we benefit from attachments, whether you call it love, friendship, empathy, or bonding. Those connections can add great richness."

He also says:

"As a physician, I find it gratifying—and a little surprising—that it is a statistical fact that a good marriage at age fifty is a better predictor of good health at age eighty"

I really appreciate how precious my wonderful marriage is on many levels.There can be no doubt it is good for my health.

I also know how important my friends are. Although I already knew it the importance of nurturing my current friendship and of making new friends is always something that it is good to be reminded of.

Prescription III – Seek Essential Sleep

While it is  intuitively obvious that getting enough sleep is a good idea. I did not realize how important it is for good health. To quote Dr Butler "Poor sleeping habits have been linked to the genesis of disease."

Interestingly enough Butler also says "The old Dogma that poor sleep is an inevitable part of aging is simply not true: Age in itself is not a predictor of insomnia".

I am very lucky in that I have never had problems sleeping and I can pretty much correlate my occasional bad nights sleep with drinking.

Prescription IV – Set Stress Aside

As with getting enough sleep, I think it is obvious that stress is bad for one's health and even impacts one's ability to think clearly.

Being a worrier tends to run in my family but I think I am pretty good at defusing stress. There is no doubt that retiring has helped a a  lot. Sometimes I do have to remind myself that I don't need to try to make everyone happy.

One thing that Dr Butler discussed in this chapter was the restorative effect of contact with the natural world. I have often said that nature is good for the soul. I just feel better when I get outside and enjoy the natural beauty of my surroundings. I was really please to see this positive influence discussed.

Another suggestion that Dr Butler had was to "Keep flowers around". He says that "A study at Kansas State University gave women a five minute typing assignment; researchers found that those who worked with a bouquet of flowers at hand outperformed those with no flowers." I love flowers but I don't usually have them at home. I'm going to add that to my short list of things to change

One of the commenters on Ronni's post about this chapter of the Longevity Prescription mentioned "escape-reading" as a stress relieving strategy. It reminded me of how helpful reading has been at very high stress times in my life. It is amazing to me how much less reading I do now that my life is less stressful.

Prescription V – Connect with your Community

In Prescription II: Nurture Your Relationships Butler talked about our closest relationships like family and dear friends. In this chapter he discuss what he describes as "that larger sense of connectedness we get from relationships that are more distant."

I don't think I have ever really separated the two but I find this an interesting way to think about connections. Butler calls it a connection with life or a connection with the world.

Butler also says that "having a purpose in life is in itself life-giving. He talks about people who find retirement depressing. " His strategies to avoid this include a second career of volunteering, neither of which I want to do right now.

Butler does acknowledge "Not that traditional retirement is not the right model for many people. For people who are able to do what they genuinely enjoy doing on their terms, retirement can make them happy and occupied. There is nothing politically incorrect about saying Ï'm retired and having a ball." On the whole that's me. Although I do think that I should perhaps work more on this blog. I seem to have been letting it falter lately and I have been meaning to write a post about why I blog to help me think about it.

Butler also talks about the "Society of cyberspace"" . This is discussed at length by Ronnie Bennett in her Time Goes By Blog and in the comments on the post about this chapter. It is pretty amazing what a vibrant community Ronni has built at Time Goes By.

"Ronni says "Alone does not necessarily mean lonely and the degree to which we need others varies widely."I think that is very true.

This chapter has definitely given me something to think about.

Prescription VI – Live the Active Life

Prescription VII – Eat Your Way to Health

Prescription VIII – Practice Prevention

Prescription IX – Stay with the Strategy

As I started writing my reactions to each of Dr Butler's prescription I came up with the idea to create a short list of reminders to carry with me in my purse and on my iPod. Here is my list of resolutions so far. I'll add to it as I go along.

Resolutions

  1. Stimulate my brain
  2. Seek out new experiences
  3. make healthy life style choices – fruits and vegetables, exercise, no extra weight, limited alcohol
  4. nurture my friendships
  5. make new friends
  6. Keep flowers around

The Longevity Prescription by M.D. Robert N. Butler

" I am aging. Let's not deny that we are aging. Let's deal with it, accept it, and use it."

The blog I read first every day is Ronni Bennett's blog Time Goes By – what it's really like to get older. I have interviewed Ronni on my podcast and I am a part of the community of elders that she has created. You may have noticed that I have a proud ElderBlogger"" badge in the right hand column of my blog. I got the badge from Ronni.

DSC_2474  Recently Ronni did a blog post suggesting that we have a discussion - virtual, online, chapter by chapter of Dr. Robert N. Butler's book,The Longevity Prescription: The 8 Proven Keys to a Long, Healthy Life. I responded enthusiastically. A couple of days ago she posted her discussion of the introduction to The Longevity Prescription. This post is my response to Ronni's posting, to the discussion in the comments on her blog, and to my reading of the introduction of The Longevity Prescription.

I really like and agree with the theme of  the introduction.

"To a surprising degree, aging is a state of mind. People who take a preventive approach to their health tend to stay young."

The introduction includes a test with 25 questions that you answer on a scale of 1-3 to come up with your Longevity index. My score of 63 at least partly reflects that I tend to be an optimist. A longevity index of 63 is pretty good but according to Butler there are still some changes I can make to "help enhance its quality".

Butler challenges the reader (me) to come up with five things I can change to increase my chances of longevity.

  1. Lose weight. – My BMI is around 35 and it should be move like 25.
  2. Eat more fruits and vegetables – Sometimes I do sometimes I don't. It doesn't come naturally to me. My goal is to at least have two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables per day
  3. Walk at least a mile every day –  Although I am fairly active it is easy for me to go for weeks with very little exercise.
  4. Start taking a daily multivitamin and low dose aspirin
  5. Watch my alcohol input – no more than 14 drinks per month.  It would be very easy for Duke and I to share a bottle of wine every night. The calories alone make this a bad idea. 

The Longevity Prescription is divided into 8 chapters each about a different prescription. Each prescription has strategies for achieving the prescription. I'll go into more detail about my thoughts for improving in each area and my questions about the validity of the prescriptions when we discuss that chapter.

One of the questions that I have been pondering since stating to read The Longevity Prescription is whether questioning the validity of a prescription is simply denial or is it reasonable to doubt some of these ideas. Doctor Butler documents the studies that have been done in each area The discussion in the Time Goes By blog comments has included several questions about whether it is really important to make new friends and to go out to socialize multiple times a week. Another question I wonder about is whether I really have to stop at one glass of wine a night? I do like my wine.

"The takeaway message? More than a little of your long-term health is very much up to you."

The goal is to "increase our chances of remaining healthy longer." what is referred to by Dr Butler as Compression of Morbidity.  To to not only live longer but to be healthy longer.

I like the idea of living a long life but even more I like the idea of that life being a healthy, active and interesting. I think what I like most about The Longevity Prescription so far is that Dr Butler takes an upbeat positive approach.  I learned something new about how I can improve the likelihood that my life will not only be longer but also better.

There is one thing  missing from this post. I don't think I have really added anything new or elucidating to the discussion that has already occurred. I'll continue to participate in the on line book club discussion and pondering how best to contribute to the discussion.

Learning to speak Spanish – The Language Hacking Guide by Benny Lewis

Duke and I spent two weeks traveling in Mexico in 2007. Duke is fluent in Spanish and his ability to really communicate made our trip so much more enjoyable than it would have been otherwise. Ever since then I have been working on learning Spanish. I want to speak Spanish fluently.

I've worked my way  through Madrigal's Magical Key to Spanish by Margaret Madrigal, I'm listening to and practicing with the Coffee Break Spanish and Showtime Spanish Podcasts produced by the Radio Lingua Network. I downloaded the Flashcards Deluxe app to my iPod Touch. I've set it to use a spaced repetition system and I've created several decks of Spanish flash cards that I practice with.  As I discussed in a previous post I am using Mango Languages on the Washoe County library web site and I like it a lot.

In spite of studying a lot for three years I still don't really speak Spanish. It is just like the four years of French I studied in high school. Even though I know a lot of the language I can not really speak it or communicate in it.

LHGRecently I bought The Language Hacking Guide by Benny Lewis. It is an ebook and included interviews, worksheets and translations.  To quote Benny's web site:

"The Language Hacking Guide explains exactly what you need to do to speak a language quickly. Rather than read through the guide to find out my one major ‘secret’, I can tell you right now. You need to speak the language from day one."

I think I really knew that the only way to speak and understand Spanish is to start speaking it. But that is really hard for me.  I don't like to appear foolish. I like to be right and I am very bad at asking for help or asking to be corrected. I am definitely not an extrovert.

The Language Hacking Guide convinced me. Benny's positive enthusiastic style and advice got me over the hump. 

Part one of The Language Hacking Guide is about Mentality. Benny says that although a goal like - I want ot learn to speak and understand Spanish is fine you really have ot have short term aims. So that is what I am working on. My goals so far are not really specific enough but I am speaking Spanish more with Duke and I think I am making some progress.

Benny also urges learners to have a language log to document progress and to share the struggle. So one  of my gaols will be to post regular updates on my progress here on this blog. I've added a Learning Spanish category to my category list on the left.

If you are interested in Benny's approach go to Benny's Fluent in Three Months web site. There you can sign up for his weekly language hacking tips.

If any of you reading this have any suggestions for how to learn to speak Spanish I would really appreciate your input and of course I appreciate your cheer leading. Thanks in advance.

 

 

Would you Hire a Coach to Give you an Edge in College?

If you had the opportunity to hire a coach to help you in some area of your life would you do it?

Asking for help is a sign of strength and yet I know I am always very hesitant to ask for help. I guess I like to pretend that I know it all.

If someone had offered me coaching services while I was in college would
I have taken them up on the offer?

I've been thinking about who
uses coaches and what a coach does.
Successful athletes always have a coach. I know that corporate executive
often have a high powered executive coach. Actors often have an acting
coach. In all these situations the people who have coaches are the top
people in the field. Not every manager at Sun Microsysstems got a coach.
You have to be very serious about your athletics to have a coach. You
have to be serious about your acting to have a coach.

My daughter Allison works for a company called InsideTrack. They offer coaching for college students. InsideTrack has coached more than 250,000 students at more than
50 campuses nationally.They have a strong data backed record of helping students be successful.

Up until recently Inside Track sold their services to colleges and offered their services only to students at partner colleges. They have just launched an offering of coaching services direct to students. Individual students can
take
advantage of  coaching, even if their school is not an
InsideTrack partner. As part of the launch they are offering a free session and friends and family pricing. If you are interested or you know someone who might be interested just go to this link http://www.insidetrackstudents.com/friendsandfamily  and tell them Allison Brown's Mom sent you !

I hope that if I was in college today I would jump at the chance to have a coach who was invested in my success. Someone who would give me an edge. Someone who was focused on me and my success.

My Grandparents – Marion Etta Bagnall Gibson and Robert Alexander Gibson

My Grandfather Robert Alexander Gibson "Bob" was an engineer for the Canadian National Railway in the Canadian Rockies. My Mother (Margaret Helen Gibson Robinson) told me that when she was young she was afraid of the steam locomotives he drove  because they were so big and so noisy. Here are a couple of pictures of my Grandfather.

MV0001 (11)
MV0001 (9)-cropped

Both my Mother and her brother Gordon are gone now. I recently called their cousin Helen who is 92 now and lives in Kingston Ontario. I asked her what she remembers about my Grandfather and Grandmother. They were  Aunt Marion and Uncle Bob to her.  She said:

"Well
you know one thing I can remember… one
time after Jane (my sister) was born Grandma came down and she asked me if I wanted to go
home with her and of course I jumped at the idea. I thought it was great. So I
went home with her and you know I ended up staying about a year and a half. While I was in Edmonton your Grandfather  was transferred to Jasper
and while he was getting a place to live in Jasper Aunt Marion came to
Grandma’s. We were all there. There was
she and Margaret and Gordon and me. 

I remember Uncle Bob, he was a nice man, good looking too. You know the train went right back of Grandma’s house, about a block, and of course we’d watch, we knew what train when he was going by and used to run out the back and wave at him and he’d blow the whistle. He was
the engineer. He was always leaning out the window there and waving at us. That
was my Uncle!

He worked for the CNR,
Canadian National Railway. I’m sure
about that. You know Gordon used to say
… He was a little bit lonesome for his Dad you know and he used to say “I’m
going to jump out the window. I’m going to run to the CNR station and I’m going
to say Jasper Park!”"

At this time Gordon would have been about 4 my Mom about 6 and Helen about 11.

When I asked Helen what she remembered about her Aunt Marion, my Grandmother, she told another story from the same time period.

"I can remember Aunt Marion sewing. She was a great seamstress. She could make anything! She made these Hudson Bay
coats.  Aunt Hilda and Aunt B each bought
a Hudson Bay blanket and Aunt Marion made coats for them. Theirs were that camel color with the black
stripe around the bottom. 

Then Grandma bought the white Hudson Bay blanket
with all the candy stripes you know, the red and the green and the gold and Aunt Marion made me a coat.  And the way she cut it she got a coat for
Margaret too. Margaret and I both had a coat out of that blanket." 

Her is a picture of my grandmother, Marion

MV0001 (5) 

Here is my Grandparents wedding picture

MV0004

The baby in the picture below is my Mom with her parents.

MV0001 (2) 

Helen and I talked for about 45 minutes and I got some great family history stories and information.

Blogging Again After a Two Month Break and A New Blog on the Blog Roll

It has been more than two months since my last post, perhaps the longest I have gone without posting since I started blogging back in September of 2004. One of the truths about blogging and for that matter about many things in life is that there is nothing wrong with taking a break for a while and then starting up again.

I've added my nephew's blog to my blog roll on the right. Steven is currently studying at Oxford. I am very proud of him. His blog does a marvelous job of conveying what an amazing experience he is having.  I am a bit of an anglophile and I love learning all about what it is like to actually attend university at Oxford. His golfing tales are pretty cool too.

025 

Steven with my Dad