Monday, October 28, 2013

The Night Guest: Book Review

Published Oct. 1, 2013.
Beyond the glowing fires of home and hearth are a number of horrors we prefer not to examine too closely. However, the Halloween season turns my attention towards things that we usually try to shove into closets, stuff under beds, and lock into attics.

By purposefully attending to our fears during Halloween, do we hope to overcome them? How can we fight the elements that inhabit our worst nightmares?

In an effort to better guard myself against the scarier aspects of aging, I picked up a copy of The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane.  Her novel asks, Can an older adult manage her own life? Or is she too frail, vulnerable, and weak? And scarier still this question:  Is an older adult even incapable of perceiving her own situation accurately?

In this 241 page novel,  we meet Ruth, a 75-year-old widow living with her cats in a beach house on an isolated stretch of the Australian coastline. Ruth has two sons, but they live abroad: one in New Zealand, the other in Hong Kong.

For a few years following her husband's death, Ruth has created a comfortable routine in her cozy, little beach cottage.  But then one night, she senses the presence of a tiger in her home.  Is something really moving around in the darkness of her home? Is it just one of her cats? Is she merely dreaming? Or is she losing her mind?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Plotkin Describes Life Stages

Photo by AdamSelwood
As I move through the lifespan, I can more clearly see the various roles people play.

Stage theory in psychology provides a number of ways for describing these roles.

Theorists such as Jean Piaget, Erik Erikson and Carl Jung have already described how people move through these stages as they age.

But developmental psychologists today are dedicated to finding even more ways to describe and interpret age-based social roles. 

I find Bill Plotkin's work in this area quite fascinating.

He has a strong foundation in Carl Jung's archetype theory. However, Plotkin also draws inspiration from nature, from non-industrialized peoples, from personal narrative, and from interviewing people across the life span.

He also looks at growth of the individual alone as well as the individual embedded in a social context.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Recipe Legacy: Cranberry Salsa

When I walk into my kitchen, I am never alone.  It's not just my children and my husband who inhabit that space with me. I feel the ghost-like presence of dozens of other people who have influenced my cooking.

This post is part of a #midlifeblvd blog hop.
The thumbnail links at the bottom of this post will disappear after a week, so I am saving a few of them for future reference. 

Sweet Pumpkin with Spicy Ragout by Renee Baribeau at The Practical Shaman 
My Sweet Ghostly Connection by Connie McCloud at My Creative Journey
Yeasty Cloverleaf Rolls by Helene Cohen Bludman at Books Is Wonderful
Chocolate Cherry Candy Mice by Cheryl Therrien at Grandmother Diaries


My first influence was my mother. She was raised by a father who tended to a herd of beef cattle and by a mother who kept a large kitchen garden.

Photo by Patrick Q.
Then my mother earned a degree in home economics and worked for a time as a home economics teacher. I watched her make bread, can fruit, and prepare a number of delicious salads and desserts.  And she taught bought me the Better Homes & Garden Junior Cookbook when I was a tween.

After I left home, my cooking was influenced by roommates, classmates, co-workers, neighbors, and friends from church and from book club.  I have now lived in 8 different states and lived abroad in Jerusalem for a time. I have sampled a variety of foods because of my travels and my gregarious nature.

When I step into the kitchen to cook, the food reminds me of someone I know or someplace I have visited. Cooking connects me to others and transports me to places beyond my own home. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

What Is Osteopenia?

Karen's Whole Body DXA Bone Scan 9/28/13
I recently participated in a research study where I received 5 different images of my fat, muscles and/or bones via a DXA scan.

As a participant, I signed forms that emphasized that this scan was for research purposes and not for diagnostic purposes. The print out of my scans also notes: "Image not for diagnostic use."

Nevertheless, I decided to take my DXA results as an opportunity to learn more about bone health.

If you are concerned about bone health, please consult with a board-certified medical expert.

The DXA operator was a Ph.D. in exercise physiology who has done research on bone and muscle loss. Dr. Young also reviewed my results. I had lower-than-average results for percent of body fat. That's good news.  However, I also had lower-than-average results for muscle mass and bone mass. That's not good news.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Non-Medical Home Care

Photo by flossyflotsam.
When choosing to be a gerontologist, I imagined helping the Baby Boomers with their own aging process.

Boomers (born between 1964 and 1946) do not perceive themselves as older adults.

Because of the increases in life expectancy in developed countries, Boomers still know a lot of people who are decades older than they are.

Consequently, most Boomers--even the trailblazers who are now 67--see themselves as inhabiting the life stage of "extended midlife."

Many from the Boomer generation aren't ready to claim being older adults because they are still offering support for their own parents.

In 2010, MetLife reports that nearly 10 million people 50 plus care for an aging parent. Furthermore, their study states:

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Logging More Sleep

Photo by BSmith4815.
Disclosure: I am participating in the Verizon Boomer Voices program and have been provided with a wireless device and six months of service in exchange for my honest opinions about the product. 

As a midlife woman, I've got a long list of responsibilities, and even though I'm tempted to skip sleep in order to get more done, I am wise enough to know that the fall out is never worth pulling an all-nighter.

Been there, done that, got the sleep-deprived t-shirt.

Photo by JenavieveMarie
I think the last time I skipped sleeping by design was in the late 1980s as a graduate student. Now I try diligently to get adequate sleep.

Shifting hormones, however, sometimes rob me of a full night's sleep.

Morpheus, you elusive god of sleep!

I'm trying a number of things to safeguard my sleeping habits: