Thursday, May 30, 2013

Flourishing in the Second Half of Life

Last weekend I was fortunate to take a course on Aging Well in Community, sponsored by Harbourside Senior Cohousing in Sooke, B.C.

What made it special was not only the setting - the beautiful campus of Royal Roads University, with its exquisite gardens and wild peacocks strutting the grounds - but the people.

They ranged in age from their 50s to their 80's, and although they came from different backgrounds and occupations, everything from a retired RCMP officer to an astrologer, they fit the classic cohousing personality profile.

They were well-travelled, adventurous, constantly seeking out new experiences and challenges - what we at Pacific Gardens would call BURPIES (as distinguished from Yuppies) - bright, under-employed real people.

The purpose of the course was to get us out of denial about aging, and into planning for a positive future by getting real about getting old, and ensuring that we will be able to thrive and flourish during our senior years.

The best way to do that, we learned, was by staying healthy through community.  Social isolation is as bad for your health as smoking, and being involved in shared activities was the key to a happy, healthy old age.

Living in cohousing, I had observed the positive effects of community life on our elderberries, as my sister cohouser Roz has dubbed us, with improvements in both physical and mental health for the elders amongst us since they moved here.

Although the course was put on by members of Harbourside Cohousing, they did not say cohousing was the only option,  but talked about such actions as retrofitting your house to stay at home, or moving in with children.

Another possibility being investigated by one group of people who attended was building an environmentally-sustainable house for themselves and their friends to live in as they aged.

No-one was keen to live in a gated condominium community, or a seniors' home.  We are from the baby boom generation, rather accustomed to making our own choices about how we want to live - and transforming society as we do it!

If all the zoning approvals go through and it gets built, Harbourside Senior Cohousing will be the first of its kind in B.C. and only the second in Canada, leading the way to a new form of aging in place for us active elderberries!


Monday, May 20, 2013

How Community and a Tree-Climbing Cat Cured the Post-Election Blues!

It's hard to believe that it was more than a month ago since I've posted here...but fortunately Myriam has kept everyone up-to-date with what's happening with her beautiful pics of Pacific Gardens in bloom and its newest residents!

I could tell by the number of viewers that politics is not the favourite topic of those who read this blog, so that's a cautionary note for me that not everybody shares my passion for this topic.

I will say that I was both happy and unhappy with what happened, mostly unhappy.  I spent a few days trying to avoid feeling depressed about the election results, without much success.

It didn't help that Nanaimo city council had voted five to four to destroy Colliery Dam Park, one of the jewels in this city and certainly of the Harewood neighbourhood.

So I decided to give up and just wallow in negativity and get it out of my system.The best way to do this, I thought, would be to catch up on all the housework I had neglected during the election campaign.

I tussled with the dust bunnies, tossed out the garbage, sorted the recycling, and scrubbed the ring out of the bathtub. And you know what?  I started feeling better.

It was a case of if you can't clean up the world, you can at least clean up the grunge in the kitchen sink. And while I was vacuuming the grit out of the patio doors, I noticed something.

It was a beautiful spring day, and outside my window, the kids were swinging on the hammock and playing on the lush green grass, and the flowers were starting to bloom again in Susana's garden.

Some robins had built a nest in one of the old apple trees, and their song filled the air of the early evening, fragrant with the smell of grass and blossoms.  But something even  better happened - although it didn't seem that way at first.

A few months go Mykl and Laura had acquired a little tabby kitten, who is now at the stage of prowling outside.  The cat saw those robins, and immediately made a bee-line for the tree.

Up the trunk the feline scooted, tail switching, while the robins flew about in terror trying to protect their nest. The little cat went higher and higher until it was almost at the top of the tree, and then the robins began dive-bombing it.

The cat couldn't go down, and the robins wouldn't give up.  What to do? I rushed outside and got Mykl, who with the help of Kaj, put up the long, tall ladder we use for pruning and gleaning.

Mykly quickly clambered up the tree, and stretched his arm out as far as he could to haul down the recalcitrant kitty, who, despite the dive-bombing birds, was still determined to get at that nest.

So what was it about this little tableau that heartened me?  The coming together of the community members to rescue a cat up a tree?  The determination of the robins to protect their young?

I'm not sure. But it made me happy, and banished those post-election blues.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

New residents...

We actually had quite a few new residents this last month. It certainly seemed to be the month of transitions.

But, I am referring to our youngest, fluffiest new residents.