Monday, December 31, 2018

Not a Resolution but a Focus Word

Photo by Justin Vidamo via Creative Commons

As the New Year approaches in a matter of hours, I'm once again rejecting resolutions. However, instead of doing nothing to mark a new beginning, I decided to choose a focus word.

I've seen people do this over the last decade or so, but I haven't taken any time to select a word for myself.

Until today.

I've selected GROUNDED as my first one word challenge. Here are a few quotes to launch me on my journey:

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Jessie's Empty Nest in Toy Story 2

Photo by Jeff Christiansen.
Toy Story 2 was released in 1999, which was during a time between the births of my two children. 

As they moved through their childhood, we watched the film at home several times to their delight..

The first five times I watched Toy Story 2 with my young children, I focused on Emily.

That character demonstrated how my children were moving through stages of childhood and leaving childhood things behind.

Then when my children became tweens and teens, I didn't watch this film at all.

Now my children are launching into adulthood.

My son moved to Nevada a year and a half ago, and I haven't seen him at all during this time. My daughter is a senior in high school.

Intellectually, I understand that they need to establish their own lives. I've been teaching university classes and running academic support services since the 1980s. During these several decades, I've been self-righteously telling parents who visit campus to "let go."

Experiencing an emptying nest myself is more emotional than I anticipated. 

Friday, December 28, 2018

2018 Top Ten Posts

Photo by vallgall.
It's time to look back at the posts published in 2018 here at The Generation Above Me.

Most of the posts were book reviews or film reviews with a smattering of posts about health, fitness, and biomarkers of longevity.

Three of the posts written in 2018 were about an invigorating conference on aging and wellness. (Two of the MAIA posts made the Top 10.)

In my non-blogging life, I teach part-time at two universities.

I teach classes in gerontology at University of Southern Indiana and writing classes at University of Evansville.

Sometimes my paid work supports my blogging, sometimes it pulls me away. I did a lot of research about ancient Athenian democracy this year in support of a class I taught, but none of that showed up on the blog. I work as a volunteer for the MAIA conference co-sponsored by USI; a lot of that showed up on the blog.

Without further ado, here are the 2018 Top 10 Most Viewed posts from The Generation Above Me.

In ascending order...

10.  Blood Urea Nitrogen: Biomarker of Health and Longevity

If BUN values are too high or too low, this may indicate problems such as under/over hydration, poor liver function, poor kidney function, heart problems, pancreas problems, nutrition problems (protein intake particularly), etc.


9. Preview for the 2018 MAIA and Wellness

Before the conference, I listed presenters' Twitter handles / Facebook pages for ease of reference while live tweeting. There are 30 plus fantastic professionals in the areas of wellness across the lifespan with particular attention to aging well. Follow them all on social media!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Cost of Living: Book Review

Published July 10, 2018. 
Oh, this book is deceptively powerful.

Deborah Levy is a playwright, poet, novelist and two-times finalist for the Booker Prize. Now she's working on a series of books that autobiographical.

The second installment is The Cost of Living: A Working Autobiography.  In her book, she describes her life during the wake of her divorce and the decline of her mother.

During this time, Levy is trying to support herself by her writing. She must juggle being a single mother to teenage girls and living in modest circumstance.

Levy writes about doing her own plumbing repairs in her modest flat and learning to negotiate the city on her motorized bicycle. She also accepts an invitation to write in a garden shed that belongs to an acquaintance.

Amid all these pragmatics, Levy writes about what it means to be a woman in the 21st Century and how she responds to the roles pushed on women, who are often described as "my wife" or "his wife" and not even named.


Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Land of Steady Habits: Film Review

Released September 14, 2018.
I'm approaching sixty, and I've been watching a number of marriages among my friends disintegrate when their children reach young adulthood.

The Land of Steady Habits is a 2018 film based off a 2014 novel of the same name. Ted Thompson is the book's author, but it's Nicole Holofcenter who writes the screenplay, directs, and co-produces the film.

This film reminded me of Cheever's "The Swimmer," and--indeed--Thompson's novel has been noted to capture the same ennui of Cheever as well as Updike--but with a 21st Century style.

The film features sixty-something Anders Harris who has decided that his conventional life in the Connecticut suburbs lacks meaning. In order to inject his life with passion, authenticity, and purpose, he quits his job in the finance world of NYC, divorces his wife, and moves out of his suburban home and into a condo.

All this freedom doesn't produce the happiness he expected.


Saturday, December 22, 2018

Race for the Mind: Book Review

Published December 1, 2017.
Daniel Gerard Welch draws on his decades' long experience working in the international pharmaceutical business to write this corporate thriller, Race for the Mind, published in December of 2017.

The book's "MacGuffin" is a drug being developed as a cure for Alzheimer's disease. Given the severity of the symptoms and the increasing prevalence of this disease, a lot of companies are hungry to be the one to manufacture and market this medicine.

The average person may not realize how complicated the process is for bringing a drug to market. It's not just the science and the patents; it's the personalities of the business people that can determine a lot about how a drug moves from a research lab to a pharmacy.

This novel has a number of characters, but Jack Callahan is the character with the most frequent and most sympathetic point of view. He's a business man who adopts various workplace assignments in an effort to get this drug--developed by scientist Dr. Win Lin to market.