Musings on Epictetus

Epictetus

I was re-introduced to Epictetus by John Stephure (co-founder of Wellspring Calgary) with the gift of a small book called The Art of Living by Sharon Lebell. I had known about the Stoics and Epictetus from University Philosophy classes, where they played a minor role, although they intrigued me.

“Stoicism’ was a philosophy that flourished for some 400 years in Ancient Greece and Rome, gaining widespread support among all classes of society. It had one overwhelming and highly practical ambition: to teach people how to be calm and brave in the face of overwhelming anxiety and pain.

We still honour this school whenever we call someone ‘stoic’ or plain ‘philosophical’ when fate turns against them: when they lose their keys, are humiliated at work, rejected in love, or disgraced in society. Of all philosophies, Stoicism remains perhaps the most immediately relevant and useful for our uncertain and panicky times.” From The School of Life website.

If you were to read the Stoics, they take a hard line on almost everything, and even though I relate to the spirit of what they say, you know me by now and can assume that I take the soft line and work within the spirit of the recommendations.

Epictetus is one of my favourite Stoics. I suppose it comes from the fact that he was born a slave and yet ended up being an influential philosopher in Ancient Rome. And also because he was interested in ordinary people, not just the Academy of Philosophers.

Like all stoics, he was concerned with the fundamentals of life, much like Dr. Shoma Morita and Dr. Itami with his Meaningful Life Therapy and much of what we talk about here. I discovered that Morita Therapy and Viktor Frankl’s Logo Therapy had some influence from the Stoics.

A few fundamental principles of Stoicism, which are compatible with my work, are:

“Some things are under your control, and other things are not under your control.”

(I say, What’s controllable and what’s not?) And then we put our efforts into the things that we can do something about. Sometimes, the effort to influence or mitigate can change the outcome. Sometimes, we have to face the facts of what we don’t like and move on. This is where I regularly speak of Arugamama –a radical acceptance. With things as they are now, what can I do?

“See things for what they are” –

 (I say Facts as Facts”)

“Don’t depend on the admiration of others.”

(Effort is good fortune) at a time when so much of life is driven by others, it is vital that we choose to approve of ourselves without striving to be approved by others. And beyond that, as much as we wish it were otherwise, results aren’t 100% controllable by us. If you have lived long enough, you have experienced it. This is not an excuse for being irresponsible, but a caution to recognize that our best efforts are what we can control and are ultimately what counts.

When Brene Brown gave her first Ted Talk, which became one of the most-watched Ted Talks ever, she was shocked by one thing. The amount of hate mail she received publicly.

She talks about how it left her reeling and fearful of ever doing another talk again. But as you know, she regrouped and accepted that she could do nothing about the haters. She had to do what she saw as important and recognize that, like all humans, she would blunder, but she still needed to do what she thought was hers to do. Whether people liked it or not was not in her direct control. So that outcome wasn’t how she judged herself.

She quotes Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Anxiety (co-existing with anxiety, uncertainty, and fear)

Anything can happen at any time to anyone. Good-hearted people often tell us that everything will be ok – people want to cheer us up when we’re mired in uncertainty, and they hasten to reassure us.

“But the Stoics bitterly opposed such a strategy because they believed that anxiety flourishes in the gap between what we fear might and what we hope could happen. Their suggestion was to follow the thread of the worst possible outcome through to the end and figure out how you would handle it should this come to pass.”

My strategy is more about recognizing that anxiety is natural. That is to be expected. And to learn that we can do things in the here and now while anxious. (doesn’t mean it is easy)Take the time I realized I had prepared for the wrong topic for my weekly webinar. That was anxiety-producing five minutes before the start. And I needed to address the elephant in the room and move on. You learn that you can still respond and offer something useful while being anxious. Mind you, my throat was a bit raspy, and other signs of anxiety were present, yet I made my way through, thanks also to the generosity of the participants. That is the practice.

The practice is when we are anxious, be anxious, and do things anyway. It doesn’t mean we don’t prepare. Of course, we do our part.  Then we show up and be the best anxious person delivering the talk we can be. We don’t have to fix our anxiety first in order to do things, and that is freedom.

“Conform your expectations to reality.”

Or it’s in the nature of fire to burn. It is a reminder about being realistic about life and other people.

If your friend is always late, why are you surprised that he or she is late this time? If your sister usually sees the worst side of the equation, why be surprised when she responds in exactly that way today?

We get angry and disappointed with others– especially with our partners, sometimes our children or parents. Often with our politicians. But here’s the facts. Of course, our loved ones will disappoint us, naturally our colleagues will fail us, invariably our friends will hurt us even inadvertently. And we, too, will cause trouble to them.

Nothing of this should be a surprise. It may make us sad or disappointed, but this is also life. We all make mistakes. We are all wrong from time to time. It doesn’t mean passivity. It means being realistic, developing tolerance, fixing, and doing what we can to make things work out when possible. And when that can’t be done to let it go. To not add piggyback suffering to our life.

“Never suppress a generous impulse.”

(an Epictetus maxim and a Dalai Lama maxim)

Or when queried about death, which is inevitable for all, Epictetus says:

“I have to die. If it is now, well then, I die now; if later, then now I will take my lunch, since the hour for lunch has arrived – and dying I will tend to later.”

In other words, “To make the best of what is in our power and take the rest as it occurs.” Or my maxim, sing while there is voice left.

Notes

1:) It was a gift to say YES to an unexpected invitation to spend a restful weekend on a beautiful lake.

2:) Today is the last day of January 2024. What lovely thing do you have planned for February? We don’t need to leave home to create meaningful and creative moments.

3:)Some days are harder than others. And yet… these last two lines from the Jane Hirschfield poem The Weighing spell it out.

“So few grains of happiness

measured against all the dark

and still, the scales balance.

The world asks of us

only the strength we have and we give it

Then it asks more, and we give it.”

4:) Photos are from Ottawa, Japan, and Vernon, BC, from 2007-2016

5:) You can’t imagine how much I appreciate your company. A thousand thank-you’s. With warm appreciation, Trudy

PS Next week, there may be a glitch with my post. A technical change had to be made by February 1st, and I, like others, made it, but I am always a little skeptical. So, if you don’t receive my post as usual, please check your spam and also let me know. Thank you!

 

 

 

Things are Not Always as They Seem

Take this morning:

From the warmth and comfort of my bed, I checked the weather app at 6:15,  like every responsible Canadian, from sea to shining sea. And there it was, the bold red label announcing Freezing Rain Warning. Consequently, I burrowed furthur under the covers, dreading the thought of going outdoors, even though my purpose was good. As always, I have my morning routine with my grandson Rowan. Furthermore, I am on driving duty this week, so I am picturing the road conditions that await me.

Of course, the warning doesn’t mean anything now. But I looked out the window and saw my car covered in snow and ice. The ice I just imagined to exist under the snow, and I was already dreading the scraping. My mind started making up stories about how difficult winter is and how it would be so much better if I had a garage.

Of course, to have a garage means I have to move. To be free of winter, I would also have to move. But I don’t want to move. I am exactly where I want to be. And that means ice, snow, scraping, and another two months of winter weather. ( something 100 percent out of my control) And since I am also 100 percent not going to change what could be changed – move to sunny climes –  I am faced with coming to terms with winter. Logic doesn’t mean easy.

And here is the – not always as they seem part.

I did get myself outdoors by 6:45, and to my surprise, it wasn’t that cold. My side windows, covered in snow, were easily swept free with my warm, red-mittened hand. And when I brushed the front windows, there was not a speck of ice anywhere to be found. No scraping was required. I paused and considered my wiley mind and how quickly it had made up stories about the difficulties awaiting me in the driveway and on the “slippery” streets.

In fact, it was quite lovely – my street was plowed and my daughter’s street was plowed and every street that I needed to drive on was plowed this morning. As I drove along the canal, workers were out prepping the ice, skaters were skating, and my good cheer was now in high gear on this winter’s day.

Things are not always as they seem.

Sometimes they might even be worse. And sometimes they might be better. But if we learn to notice our direct experience rather than paying attention to the stories our mind offers up we may be surprised. It verifies the advice I received as a newcomer to chemo many years ago now.

“Don’t make decisions as to whether to go outside or not,  from your bed. Treat each day as a brand new day filled with possibilities. Get up, get dressed and step outside on the porch and then decide if the weather is too bad to take a few steps. If it is, go back inside, have breakfast and have something interesting that you get to do. Deal with your troubles as they emerge. Cross your bridges, only when they appear. Make no assumptions about what side effects you will get. Be open to surprise.”

Let’s face it, tomorrow will be another story. My fears of this morning will most likely come to pass tomorrow if the radar is accurate. But who knows? Meteorology is an imperfect, early warning system, but not always 100% accurate. Winds change. Temperatures rise and drop, sometimes unpredictably. Nevertheless, I will deal with the reality that presents itself.

This early morning episode made me think about the many things we think/fear might happen with the slightest provocation, headline, or urban myth…we are designed for survival, so it makes sense. Yet, if we prepare for inclement weather (as an example) and, without catastrophizing, adapt to the reality of what actually happens, we have more emotional freedom. There is no need to be “fretting ” about scraping the windows; the truth is, however, distasteful, I need to scrape the windows when they are covered with ice if I want to drive my car. It is part of living in a four-season country. And I chose to live here.

Sometimes, we do this same kind of thing in other situations. Take chemo, for instance. Depending on the type of cancer, the type of treatment and the patient, side effects may be minimal or loom large at different times, and they will be different from one person to the next. Everyone has their own stories. But just because it happened to X does not mean it will happen to Y. Once again when we cross our bridges as they appear, we may have fewer or more bridges to go over. Letting the actual circumstances, rather than the imagined circumstances, dictate what needs doing is ultimately less painful and certainly less anxiety-ridden.

Ultimately, if I turned my curiosity on to winter, I might get more creative in minimizing the parts I don’t like or, better still, just recognize my tendencies and scrape. No big deal.

Notes

1:) “For each headache you face, ask yourself, ‘Is this mostly real or imagined?’  Solve the real problems, release the imaginary ones.” James Clear, author of Atomic Habits

2:) Some simple advice – “The real things haven’t changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.” Laura Ingalls Wilder via James Clear

3:) You can not imagine my good fortune as I write this blog post. I had a ding on my phone, and a text came from my driving-to-school partner. We take turns, two weeks at a time. Her amazing offer was to do the driving tomorrow as it is already so icy out there. And  I gratefully accepted. Thus, I can take my time, later in the morning, to de-ice my car and will be in good shape for the pickup at 3:00. Oftentimes, unexpected good surprises come along. This was one of those.

4:) We are entering our last week in January. May you have a plethora of awesomeness. Warmest greetings and an abundance of thanks to you all. Trudy

PS The aurora borealis was photographed by Gottfried in Yellowknife on  New Year’s Eve 2000 or New Year’s Night 2001.The paintbox sketch by Patricia Ryan Madson, author of Improv Wisdom

Bits of Rubble Into Gold

Three things:

A discussion

I appreciate this idea of turning challenging and unpleasant aspects of our lives into gifts without ignoring the rubble.  Like the ancient art of Kintsugi – repairing cracked pots with gold – which, in turn, become objects of reverence and awe. The metaphor doesn’t exactly hold, but today at my NBC (Non-Bookclub), we discussed aspects of the pandemic that brought this title to mind.

Our book was Lucy by the Sea, written by Elizabeth Strout, an award-winning and beloved author. It takes place during the early days of the pandemic when there was no readily available navigation system, and terrible things, as we all witnessed, happened in ways we could not have foreseen.

In sparse and crystalline prose, Lucy’s story illuminates grief, the complicated human condition, tolerance, fear, love, death, and the deep interiority of individual lives. As NPR puts it, you feel spoken to and in good hands the whole way through.

It prompted the leader of today’s book to invite us to articulate our COVID-19 experience – the challenges and the gifts. It was interesting to hear about the gifts all of us experienced while, at the time, there were losses. We had deeply recognized the significant problems for younger families, teens, and all those with compromised immune systems.  For me personally, a significant loss was not being able to celebrate my Mother’s 100th birthday in person. A gift was facilitating weekly programs on Zoom for Wellspring Alberta ( cancer resource centres), which will be four years old in March. I love doing it, and it came about 100% because of COVID-19 and the unavailability of in-person programs. Additionally, Zoom programs have greatly benefitted people impacted by cancer and other illnesses in the long term because of accessibility.

The Gift of Zoom

Option B for my mother was celebrating her birthday from coast to coast on Zoom. That was amazing, as were weekly Zoom visits with my older grandsons and their families. This now includes the twin baby girls and other extended family members. We were not doing this before COVID-19, but the latter prompted us to prioritize it. Due to the isolation, we all learned, changed, became more resilient, and discovered many new things about ourselves and our loved ones. And the amount of help we could access and the ways to stay in touch with distant family and friends, thanks to Zoom and other video conferencing platforms, has changed our lives for the better.

The Breathtaking Changes to the Light

Speaking of gold, have you noticed the light 30 minutes before sunset? And how we are gaining in that light every single day? I am awestruck with the beautiful sky, all pink and purple. And also, what happens to the snow on a bush or the corner of a porch in my neighbour’s yard when the light strikes it and turns things golden?

A Live Performance

Many still struggle to return to the concert hall, theatre and other public events. And they have good reasons for that hesitancy. However, for those who can, nothing on Zoom or YouTube compares to a real in-person event. Last night, I had the good fortune to attend a recital by Angela Hewitt, a classical pianist best known for her Bach interpretations. My grandson and I left the concert hall floating on the performance and atmosphere. I think this was my first live concert at the National Arts Centre since COVID-19, and I had forgotten how amazing it is to be part of that collective effervescence and with such an outstanding and beloved performer.

The Fountain of Youth

It reminded me of the message from an esteemed professor in Gerontology back in the 90s – “The fountain of youth and well-being is live performance.” She was passionate in her appeal that we get ourselves out to plays, chamber festivals, blues concerts, jazz fests – anything that we resonate with. And whenever possible, enjoy in person.

Whatever terrible things we are going through, let’s do what we can to influence, manage, and change what can be changed. Taking action on the things we can do something about is vital. But let’s not stop there. At the same time, let’s look around to see what good, helpful or joyful things are arising.  This is never to ignore or deny the tough stuff, but we also don’t want to ignore the beautiful and the good. It is also there. Saying Yes to Life is enlivening.

 

Notes

1:) Thanks to one of our wonderful readers, Wendy R,  who put this quote in our comments last week. Most of you don’t get to view the comments, so I am putting it here for all to see. She wrote, “…I’m also reminded of a quote I love credited to Itzhak Perlman when one of his strings broke mid-performance, and he continued to play–it went something like: “It’s what you do with what you have left.”

2:) The live performance from the California Sea Lions is less than music to the ears, but their presence this year on the beach at Gabriola Island is a significant first appearance.

3:) For anyone interested in a joyful two-minute meditative song from Plum Village, France, that is almost guaranteed to make you smile simply from the sweetness of the singers. This was an unexpected gift from a participant in one of my webinars. Breathing In, Breathing Out

4:) I can hardly believe it, but it is 16 years tomorrow when I received my cancer diagnosis. How fortunate for me that there was treatment available and an amazing medical team who saw me through 18 months of treatment and regular follow-ups to help restore my health. I have a special shout-out to oncology nurses who are unsung heroes and earth angels, as far as I am concerned. I am forever grateful!  Also, for the scientists and researchers who worked for years to discover and get approval for the drugs that kept me and so many others alive. A deep bow.

 5:) It’s time for me to stop talking. Thank you again for stopping by here each week. And I hope you know how honoured I am that you do so and how much I appreciate each and every one of you. Many of you have been here for almost six years now. It’s kind of unbelievable. All my best wishes, always, Trudy

Oubaitori and Other Things

Alpengluhen – Alpenglow – “a reddish glow often seen on the summits of mountains just before sunrise or just after sunset.” In this case, Gabriola Island looks across the Coast Salish Sea to the Sunshine Coast and Coastal Mountains. One of my favourite views. Thanks, Gottfried. (If you aren’t aware, you can see the entire scene if you click on the banner photo.)

Oubaitori

My friend sent me a link to a new Japanese word that describes a concept. Oubaitori. She knows that one of the things I like are words that contain a deeper meaning, like ikigai, for instance. We could translate the word ikigai as “a reason to live,” according to Google Translate, while, in fact, the word has multiple significant meanings. Many books have been written about ikigai, which is more of a philosophy of daily life. According to Nick Kemp, a Western expert on Ikigai, ikigai “indicates the sources of meaning in your life: experiences, people, relationships, dreams, hobbies, and even memories…that make your life worth living.” (from his book Ikigai-Kan)

I also like this description by Yukari Mitsuhashi- “the sum of small joys in everyday life, resulting in a more fulfilling life, as a whole.”(from her book Ikigai)

It isn’t just the Japanese

that have words which contain a depth of meaning not easily translated into English. Take this German word – gemutlichkeit- which translates as coziness. But in Austria and Germany, it contains nuances not readily available in English. Wikipedia captures it better – “it conveys a state or feeling of warmth, friendliness and good cheer. Other qualities encompassed by the term include peace of mind and a sense of belonging and well-being springing from social acceptance. ( community and companionship) ” Much more like Ibasho,” another favourite Japanese word/concept I wrote about earlier.

When I investigated Oubaitori, I discovered that it represents a concept I deeply value: not comparing yourself with others. It is a word that comes together from the Kanji for the four trees that bloom in spring: cherry blossoms, plums, peaches and apricots. According to the Japan Times: ” Each flower blooms in its own time, and the meaning behind the idiom is that we all grow and bloom at our own pace. It is a reminder that everyone has their own journey through life, and we should focus on our growth, not compare ourselves so much to others, and celebrate our individuality and uniqueness.”

 

Coincidentally, this very week, I came across this supplemental piece of advice from an old book:

“When we plant a rose seed in the earth, we notice that it is small, but we do not criticize it as “rootless and stemless.” We treat it as a seed, giving it the water and nourishment required of a seed. When it first shoots up out of the earth, we don’t condemn it as immature and underdeveloped; nor do we criticize the buds for not being open when they appear. We stand in wonder at the process taking place and give the plant the care it needs at each stage of its development. The rose is a rose from the time it is a seed to the time it dies. Within it, at all times, it contains its whole potential. It seems to be constantly in the process of change; yet at each state, at each moment, it is perfectly all right as it is.”

—Timothy Gallwey  The Inner Game of Tennis

The Seven Ways to be Miserable.

In the past, I taught a workshop on The Seven Ways to be Miserable. Sounds like a fun time. Right?:-))

However, just one of those seven ways contributes a lot to misery – unnecessary comparisons. And you only have to glance at a billboard, ad, or Facebook to see all the ways you don’t measure up and how you could be happy if only…you bought this, went there, lost ten pounds, had a better spouse and a million other things the marketing machine has on tap for you to have a better life. And every new year, we are bombarded with self-improvement suggestions.

It isn’t only comparing ourselves to our colleagues, friends and neighbours. We do it to ourselves. We can be shocked by creaky knees, sickness, and less energy. What are we doing wrong? Where has our energy gone? How come I now look like my Mother?

Hidden Potential

I love being 77 – choosing to reduce my expectations, trusting myself, and having no need to solve the world’s problems.  I no longer think that I must  “rise” to every occasion. Whew! And I fully recognize my delightful ordinariness and have no more pretensions about discovering my hidden potential.” What a relief.

It also allows me to enjoy work that I love and spend inordinate amounts of time (in person and online) with my grandchildren, family and friends.  I consider this my reason to be here. And even though my days are full, I rush slowly, as my friend Helga once advised me. (not all the time – life has its own plans)

The big problem with comparing ourselves to others is that we become more dissatisfied or more smug. We will be better off or worse off than the next person.  So, I have found relief in accepting myself and others, warts and all, just as we are. This, by the way, does not mean imposing our bad behaviour on others. I know that you know what I mean. Obviously,  kindness and courtesy always go a long way. But it is coming to grips with who we are and liking what we find.

Notes

1:) Life will bring you pain all by itself. Your responsibility is to create joy. – Milton Erickson, M.D.

2:) I am sure you are desperate to see an updated photo of my twin great-granddaughters  (Isabelle and Evelyn) at five months old.

3:)  “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

4:) Please remember, dear reader, that anything I write is my view and life experience. It is not prescriptive.  Just keep what resonates and let the rest go. There is no formula, and no one else knows what is best for you. Trust yourself.

5:) May you sing while there is  voice left, and I always, always wish for your good health, strength, courage and joyful moments. So many thanks for stopping by to read my blog post. With appreciation and gratitude, Trudy

PS I heartily invite and welcome my German, Austrian and Japanese friends to correct my understanding of these words/concepts. You are free to jump in.

 

 

 

How Delight Can Heal Us

This photo was taken (not by me) in the Rocky Mountains in 2019. It never fails to delight me when I see these happy faces, and it looks like I may see many of them once again this Oct 2024 in Japan. Fingers crossed.

Unexpected Delight

It is wonderful how delight arrives in unexpected ways and places. Take today – I answered a comment on my blog and innocently responded to the comment as though it was someone else. My lovely reader got in touch and although this kind of mistake can be embarrassing, in this case, it was delightful. I became better acquainted with an amazing reader and as there was a bit of synchronicity involved it brought a smile to my heart. I am smiling now, thinking about it.

And then, there was New Year’s Eve

I had the good fortune to spend the entire evening with my 13-year-old grandson Rowan. We had a plan for the night that began with a Japanese meal at 5:30 and concluded with lemon crepes at midnight made by Rowan. In between, we created a wonderful program for ourselves, but the highlight was a simplified and adapted Japanese Tea Ceremony curated by Rowan. I will leave it at this: it was the most significant and meaningful experience of any New Year that I could ever have imagined. Pure joy, and I will treasure that evening forever.

No Resolutions –

Other than my letter writing, which I started last week. How is it going, you ask? It was better than expected and not as good as it could be. I am delighted that I got ten beautiful cards written, addressed, stamped and mailed. I did not get to write cards every day. And I have learned from experience that if I try to catch up, I will probably give up.

Instead, I simply start again, where I left off and will stop matching my cards with the numeric value of the 12 days of Christmas. I discovered that I could write three or four good letters/cards in one hour, which is manageable. Who knows, I may re-cultivate letter-writing and since I have a lot of people in my life to thank and acknowledge, I want to do it while I can. It is one of the things that matters.

A Note About Resolutions

Have you noticed the number of articles and tips this week on resolutions? I am always attracted, in spite of myself,  to see what the next great tip is. Still, there is nothing wrong with resolutions – I have been doing them since childhood. I recall my sister and I sitting down on January 1st with paper and pencil, making lists of how to improve. I’m not against self-improvement, but now I know for myself they mostly don’t work. However, the ads and articles with the “best notebook, new pen or app” suggest I might be successful. And I am ever so glad that I don’t swallow the hook. I will stick with one thing at a time and dailyish as my “friend” Oliver Burkeman states.

So I take this week to organize, rest, dream, do a little planning, call distant friends and relatives, be Rowan’s study buddy and get a one-hour walk in every day. That appears to be enough.

I looked back at past old posts I wrote in January, and even five years ago, seems like yesterday. I pulled out a few excerpts I would like to add here.

Creating Joyful Moments in the Midst of Suffering

I think alot about creating joyful moments in the midst of suffering. I suspect it stems from having grown up with my particular clan in the Maritimes,  where we learned to accompany each other through the tears. It wasn’t about denial of difficulties nor forcing a false front, rather it was about broadening the view to see what else was true. There was an understanding that things would change; feelings would fade; no one escapes sorrow and that somehow things would get better around the corner. Love and laughter helped.

What I have found is that things change on a dime. During times of illness and difficulty we are hopeful one minute, despairing the next and hopeful again. This cycle repeats itself and it is natural, considering the challenging circumstances we find ourselves in.

And yet…there is always more, when we have our circle of friends and family. I recall a few years ago when a small  group of friends came together, for two nights. More than one was grieving loss, so both the tears and the laughter spilled over through the music, poetry, games, spa and heart wrenching discussions. And still, everyone left feeling more alive, loved and grateful.

Moai

The Japanese have the word “moai”- a concept attributed to the greatest longevity in the world, particularly for women. Maoi is essentially a lifelong social network of friends who support you into old age. Although we don’t have a “word” like that, we all experience the essential nature of our important friendships.

Our Western research is unequivocal regarding the improved health metrics of those with a close and committed group of friends they can rely on. And although ideally, we would all live in the same area, that is not the case in North America. We are often widely separated from our old friends and family.

And still, we can help and count on those friends from afar. Not in the way we could if we lived down the street, but this is where technology really helps. For all of our complaints and fears about devices, we have never had it so easy to stay in touch with loved ones.

My cousin reads books to her granddaughter several evenings a week. We had a 100th Birthday dinner with my Mom using our iPads when the 4500 KM distance between us during COVID-19 could not be breached. It wasn’t better than being there, but it was certainly the best alternative.

The Land of the Immortals

We are all getting older, and I consider it a privilege, so I want to live my older age as long as possible. I found this video, which was part of a larger piece, and I was touched, inspired, and delighted by this six-minute segment. I knew about this group of women but didn’t know this aspect of their story.

Their effort and their joy make it worth sharing, not just because they are all in their 80s and 90s, but as a reminder to all of us to reach out and find the spark and the love that makes life worth living. A reason to get up in the morning. (sub-titles)

Six min Video – In the land of the immortals- Click here

 

“Joy creates a spaciousness in the mind that allows us to hold the suffering we experience inside us and around us without becoming overwhelmed, without collapsing into helplessness or despair. It brings inspiration and vitality, dispelling confusion and fear while connecting us with life. Profound understanding of suffering does not preclude awakening to joy. Indeed, it can inspire us all the more to celebrate joyfully the goodness in life. The Dalai Lama and Bishop Desmond Tutu are good examples of people who have seen tremendous suffering and are still able to inspire others with an infectious joy.” ~ James Baraz  Tricycle’s Daily Dharma

Notes

1:) The beautiful bald eagles were photographed on Gabriola Island, thanks to Gottfried, and the vibrant wood duck resides in Vancouver, courtesy of Rob.

2:) “It’s easier to optimize a modest start than to begin with a perfect start. Starting is the hard part, so start small and get in the mix. You’ll learn a lot, and you’ll realize you don’t need to have it all figured out to begin.” James Clear

3:) “Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs, the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.” Author and poet Maya Angelou

4:) Thank you so very much for reading this blog. I consider it a great honour, and I deeply appreciate you all, dear readers. May 2024 be filled with moments of wonder, love, good enough health, strength and heart. Warm regards, Trudy

PS A special shoutout to my dear Japanese friends, who just went through a horrific earthquake. May you all be and stay safe.