with every passing year they muscle in,
inhabit my skin like fingers in a sock,
shifting my face into a foreign familiarity,

less me, more them: father, mother, uncle, aunt, …
Mark Soto-Smith

Mark Smith-Soto’s poem, Reflection: Them, Me, recently published in The Sun, comments on how our reflection in late life takes on hints of parents and older relatives. Presumably, our mature minds and hearts take on hints of these mentors as well.   

Recently, a friend showed me the gift of mentoring. When I suggested we collaborate – my photographic ideas and her visual artist skills, she countered that the artistic/technical skills I needed were within my grasp if I hunkered down to it. With her guidance about the absolutely necessary skills to learn, I am moving along with video tutorials.  Who knows? we may end up collaborating, but not out of my ignorance.

Mentoring Quotes

To generate is to initiate, to inspire, and to originate something that is meaningful, hopeful, and sustainable for ourselves and others. In generativity, we become mentors and stewards. We give back to our families and communities, sharing our wisdom, experience, and passion, and leaving a legacy.   ~ Angeles Arrien

Help others achieve their dreams and you will achieve yours.  ~ Les Brown

[Aging] is a time we can act as guide, mentor, and agent of healing and reconciliation on behalf of the planet, nation, tribe, clan, and family.
     ~ Rabbi Zalman Schacter-Shalomi

Mentoring brings us together – across generation, class, and often race – in a manner that forces us to acknowledge our interdependence, to appreciate, in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words, that ‘we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied to a single garment of destiny.’ In this way, mentoring enables us to participate in the essential but unfinished drama of reinventing community, while reaffirming that there is an important role for each of us in it. ~ Marc Freedman

Mentoring Resources

Foster Grandparents

Iowa Mentoring Partnership

Aging with Spirit

A Sunny, Funny View of Old Age

Positive Aging Newsletter

 Aging in Community

Creating An Age-Advantaged Community: A Toolkit for Building Intergenerational Communities that Recognize, Engage, and Support All Ages

Home Sharing is a Solution for Senior Housing

Where Strangers Become Family

Seniors Who are Changing the World

New Generation of Seniors Changing How We Retire 

Writing Exercise – Write Blessings

This month, remember your mentors and pass along their blessings by telling one or more stories about a mentor to a younger member of your family or to a friend.  In June I gave a legacy letter to a graduating student Luisa about an emeritus professor Mary who has listened to my research ideas year after year at regular lunches – she’s even remembered my direction when I’ve lost track. Within the letter I offered best wishes for Luisa to seek out mentors and mentees as she moves through her own career and life.

Life Reimagined: The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife

Book Review

Life Reimagined: The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife

Barbara Bradley Hagerty; New York: Riverhead Books, 2016

Engage with verve,
Choose purpose over happiness,
Your thinking is your experience.
~ Barbara Bradley Hagerty

Barbara Bradley Hagerty, Science journalist for [USA] National Public Radio, takes the opportunities to extend midlife into one’s 80’s and 90’s very personally.  She presents interdisciplinary longitudinal studies, brain science and psychological research on usual and optimal aging in a highly readable way – backed up by pages of well-documented footnotes describing specific work. Her most important sources are American, often decades long, including: the Harvard Longitudinal Study (Vaillant, Waldinger), the Nun Study (Snow), Rush Memory and Aging Project (Bennett), and the Seattle Longitudinal Study (Schaie & Willis).

Brain science demonstrates that loneliness (subjective social isolation) is a killer. Loneliness promotes social withdrawal, hostility, reduced pleasure in social situations, lower meaning in life, and risky behaviours. Chronic loneliness is associated with a shorter life.  Social engagement with life, cultivation of friendships, and volunteering are major strategies for moving beyond loneliness.

Purpose and meaning in life, a sense of future, and curiosity are life-savers.  The good news is that efforts to reach out to others stretches our minds and bodies, fosters nurturing social connections, and changes our later life.  Fulfilling our need to contribute feeds our physical and mental health, extending our lives and improving quality of life.

Hagerty interprets findings through engaging interviews with key researchers mixed with reflections on challenges and lessons from her own midlife experiences.  Chapters on memory, friendship, marriage, purpose, coping, altruism, and work (paid and unpaid) elaborate on the art, science and opportunities of the middle of life.

For pdf file: Ryan17-Hagerty-LifeReimagined.


With this intergenerational shadow photo,

I bid you adieu,