Wednesday, May 4, 2016

When Breath Becomes Air: Book Review

Published 12 January 2016.
Paul Kalanithi was both a man of science and a man of letters with a promising future when he was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. He had spent years training to be a scientist-doctor-author, only to find that his future largely erased by his cancer. 

Over the next 22 months, his life came into sharp focus as he tried to align his values with how he spent his dwindling time. 

The pages of his memoir make evident Kalanithi's three core values: develop the skill as a neurosurgeon in order to prolong life and quality of that life; read, write and think deeply about what it means to be human; and cherish loved ones.

As a retired English teacher, I particularly enjoyed how he found solace through the pages of literature. In years prior, Kalanithi not only studied biology and medicine, he also earned three degrees in literature and philosophy. His memoir draws on key passages from classic literature, helping him explore his thoughts and feelings. 


Saturday, April 30, 2016

Reinventing Myself at Midlife, Again

Newburgh, Indiana River Front. Photo by Karen D. Austin
When I was in my mid twenties, I spent a lot of time creating a life plan.

As I travel through life, I find that planning my life out 50 years ahead is futile.

Spending a lot of time thinking about the next 10 years or even the next 5 years ends up distracting me too much from current opportunities.

Now I visualize my life more in six months increments.  I might project a little further ahead, but I don't spend much time doing that, and those plans remain more ethereal.

Right now, I'm in a great state of flux.

I'm selling my Kansas house in May and moving to Indiana.

Not only do I have to manage a lot of pragmatics, I am managing emotional and conceptual aspects of my life.  A lot of my identity is wrapped up in my social connections and roles in various organizations.

By moving 600 plus miles away, I will have to reinvent myself. Again. 


Monday, April 25, 2016

Quotes about Aging: A through F

Photo by SFView.
Over the last four years, I've been scouring several venues for quotes about aging.

Mind you, I do NOT necessarily agree with all of the following statements about aging.

But I do think they are all worth examining and discussing.

Which quotes reflect your view of aging?

Which quote irritates you the most?

Which quotes make you smile?

Which person is your favorite wit?

Enjoy these quotes organized by the author's last name.

A

Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise if you wish to keep them in working order. John Adams

Life is a dream for the wise, a game for the fool, a comedy for the rich, a tragedy for the poor. Sholom Aleichem

The wisest are the most annoyed at the loss of time. Dante Alighieri

Older women know who they are, and that makes them more beautiful than younger ones. Naveen Andrews

A wise woman wishes to be no one's enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone's victim. Maya Angelou

In Europe we admire grown-up women; I think men revere older women. Francesca Annis

It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live. - Marcus Aurelius


Monday, April 4, 2016

Somebody Stole My Iron: Book Review

Published 17 January 2014.
Supporting one parent through a chronic illness is challenging enough. Author Vicki Tapia chronicles her experience supporting her father through Parkinson's Disease and her mother through Alzheimer's Disease.

Her book is called Somebody Stole My Iron: A Family Memoir of Dementia, published 17 January 2014, available on Amazon.

Tapia's parents are having more and more trouble managing the basics. As the only child living locally to her parents, Tapia helps her parents through a couple of moves--from their home to assisted living to a skilled nursing center.

Most of her memoir discusses her mother's problems with memory, mobility, language and self-care.  Her father is a quiet man who rarely complains. Her mother is more outspoken, determined and demanding.

It's difficult to walk the line between respecting her mother's desire for independence and her mother's need for safety.

Tapia learns again and again that her mother's can present an illusion of capability that exceeds the reality.