An excerpt from my talk this morning at University of Texas for Austin UP Event (focusing on making Austin a more Age-Friendly City).
Dr. Marc Argonin of Miami Jewish Health Hospital is a trailblazing psychiatrist of Miami Jewish Health Hospital.
Author of The End of Old Age. Published by Da Capo lifelong books. It took me a while to find an individual such as
Dr. Argonin. He is a new breed of thought leaders in creating a positive future in how we see ourselves age.
Dr. Argonin is on the front lines every day helping to shift negative archaic, obsolete ideas on how we conduct ourselves as we age. Hey give a listen. It’s worth your time and your older sense will thank you later.
Here’s the link
Listen to it at one of these 3 …..https://anchor.fm/design-your-age . OR … On Apple ITunes Or Google Play Music
Meet the Swiss Army Knife of Age Scientists. Dr. Steven Austad.
In this premiere podcast Design Your Age invites you on an exploration to meet innovative, ground-breaking individuals in the field of aging. And you have a front row, first class seat to hear about stunning new ideas that will change the way we see ourselves as we get older. In this first episode discover one of the most prolific Age Research Scientist’s on the planet. Dr. Steven Austad has proved his mettle and received medals and awards for his work in aging. Director, UAB Nathan Shock Center of Excellence in the Basic Biology of Aging. International recognition from Fondation IPSEN Longevity Prize. The Irving S. Wright Award of Distinction, American Federation for Aging Research, New York,The Robert W. Kleemeier Award for Outstanding Research, Gerontological Society of America. And many others. Dr. Austad has collaborated with Age scientists all around the globe. Dr. Austad is also a gifted communicator.
Dr. Austad brings a sharper edge to how we see aging. To support Dr. Austad’s work. BECAUSE HE’S DOING INCREDIBLE WORK !! Austad Healthy Aging Fund,” University of Alabama at Birmingham, Dept. of Biology, 1720 Second Avenue South, Birmingham, AL 35294-1170. Listen in.
photo by colin carter
Start daydreaming now. Start dreaming of what would be cooler when you are older. We need a new architecture of belief. Because we are presently told to see ourselves as faulty, frail, the nearly dead. Well we ain’t f*^king dead yet. It’s time to create a new way to see things. And create new things in aging. Perhaps your own “Age Valuator”.
Discover a new worth in yourself. Imagine transferring the experience you have into a new currency. One that will economically lift your own sense of self and perhaps even bring you new streams of income. Yes possible. A “New Older” that more exciting that you can imagine.
But if you start dreaming….dreaming aging…you will find there is plenty of landscape for new ideas. Ways we can not only help ourselves but fuel our energy by helping others. Sssshhhhhh. You might want to keep it a secret from the “Age Police” who ask how many years old are you. Or those that say “Act your age, you can’t do that.”
Time to let those people go, they are only driven by their sense of fear of almost every thing.
Bring on new design in all realms. Transportation. Medicine. Community. Wake up there’s a world out there and you can participate and change it. There is a serious side to the positive aspects of aging. How do you start? Make of list of what you’d like to see for yourself to be …as older. Don’t be timid. Be bold. Remember the time in your life where you might have been fearless? I’m asking “How did you muster up the courage to do that?” Remember? You still got it in you. Share your dreams with others on this sight. I’ll credit you ! There is a new world to create. Believe it. Everything around you was once a idea. If you really look you see how older could be better. Starting here, I believe in you.
photography credits:deborah feingold photography AND Daily Mail U.K.
Tuck: “Could we have another take Christopher? I’d like you to just punch up the words “…is everything”.
Christopher : “Oh yes. I see what you are doing there Tuck.”
Truth was I didn’t know what the hell I was asking Christopher Plummer to do. I was in my mid-20’s directing the “Sound Of Music” Christopher Plummer ! Asking him to re-read the copy for a radio ad I had written for Japan Airlines. All of this under the intense gaze of my client and my creative director in a recording studio in New York.
Plummer knew that I was a young advertising copywriter being sized up and he was incredibly gracious to me. Each line. Every take he did was better and better. His agent had meticulously asked for a sum of roughly of $70,000 for Mr. Plummer to read 3 radio commercials. Plus a special limo. Plus special beverages to be available in the limo. Woo-Boy, I was going to be sweating during this recording.
Among the many great voices that sat down next to me during auditions included
James Earl Jones but no one had the lift and velvet hammer voice of Christopher Plummer.The slogan to be read for Japan Airlines was “To be prepared, is everything.” This was part of an advertising campaign I was working on and while I didn’t write the slogan I did write the commercials for which I was very proud.
Today Christopher Plummer is most certainly an “Age Hero” of mine. At the age of 88, Plummer recently leaped into a movie role replacing Kevin Spacey due to all the sexual misconduct allegations around him. Working with the director Ridley Scott, age 80, Plummer shot all his scenes in just nine days. He opted not to watch any of Spacey’s footage. With lightening speed he memorized his lines “Thank God for all my years of doing theatre. …I’m not pushing up the daisies just yet ” said Plummer. And then Director Ridley Scott did a reshoot on a massive scale that has never been attempted before. Plummer now nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance and Scott being celebrated for their extraordinary work on the movie “All The Money In The World.”
What drives Plummer is revealed when you hear him talk excitedly about his work. “I really wanted to find the humanity in this character of J. Paul Getty.” When I meet individuals in their 80’s and 90’s that still have a sense of purpose and usefulness it’s a beyond inspiring to witness. Individuals that are not movie stars just older adults that love what they do. They have become telfonesque about the hurtful ways people describe “useless old people”. Look closely, at that the lessons Christopher Plummer and Ridley Scott are teaching us at 88 and 80 years of age, about not stopping and continuing to grow. That is really worth all the money in the world. “
“Tuck I really have a hard time being with other women my age that complain about their aches and pains. That’s why I really like the company of younger people .”
Carolyn Kamin (My Mom at age 81)
On big white porch my thoughts were forever changed about so-called “Senior Living”. Not long ago after giving a talk about my book, Design Your Age at a titled “Senior Community” I sat afterwards with two wonderful ladies. As I got up to leave from the porch the two ladies begged me to come back and visit. I felt as though I was a liar, betraying them when I said I would return. I felt as if I was visiting an orphanage. An orphanage where no one has a chance of being adopted, much less re-visited. This event was the final straw and it changed my mind about these isolated so called “Senior Living” communities. But there is so much these existing communities can do to open their doors and move from restricted, isolated communities to becoming diverse age communities. And now older residential homes, apartments, facilities, and condos are sprouting up to be located in areas considered multigenerational. Hallelujah.
A Diverse Community Is Healthier.
Citing my interview with Professor James Kaufman from the University of Connecticut who’s authored multiple books on creativity, “Tuck the most creative, stimulating and productive communities throughout history were diverse in age, faith, sex, gender and race. Conservative, liberal, all matters of belief. New ideas that poured out of these communities changed the world.” Well that’s where I want to live.
Senior Living Comes Out To Play.
Recently I received an invitation to appear as talent in a photo shoot for a new community. I took them up on the offer because I was curious about their marketing and remarkably their building, which is smack dab in the middle of a community of all ages. Just out their front door is a park where young mothers and fathers with children play. Those same families live next door. Shops and many restaurants are steps away from this new building. Here is at least one step in the right direction of making older living better. Normalizing it.
Most active 80 and 90 year olds I have met detest the word “Senior” and what the word has become. Yes, it’s time to rebrand that name as well as throw it out in the trash with the words frail and elderly. Use the term “older individuals”, “elders” or coin a new phrase. Now’s the time for new language.
Compassion for existing older age facilities.
How cold and unkind is it of me to write negatively of communities that serve older adults? Obviously for many there is no choice but to go live in one of these communities. Yes some of these facilities invite and engage younger individuals on holidays to visit with their older residents. The children of older individuals, mostly boomers struggle to pay and make time for caregiving of their parents. This is a tremendous challenge and burden. And yes many of these facilities have extraordinary individuals providing care. A spouse may be experiencing early Alzheimer’s. So a move to a facility of this kind of care is lifesaving at times. But that same facility can create a space to invite and mentor younger individuals everyday. It’s time to get programs like that going. The younger people will discover the worth of older individuals. They will receive real world tools. Those who are older will feel a rise of self confidence. Open the doors and invite the outside world in.
Teasing Margaritas & Weed ?
A quiet rumbling is occurring. Boomers don’t want to move into these isolated age restricted communities. So variations like Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville have popped up. Just guessing here but once you sign up you get the comfort of your own Parrot shirt and a bottomless glass of Margaritas. Hey sounds like fun.
For those that like to follow concerts on tour like the Grateful Dead, imagine a new bus service to get “Dead Heads” from one concert to another. In those recreationally accepted states a continual small cloud of weed could permeate the bus. As well as a chance of yourself going up in smoke when it’s your time. Sort of like Willie Nelson’s song “Smoke me when I’m gone.”
“Why can’t there be a housing development that I could share with other women and men my age? We’d have a large shared kitchen and responsibilities. We’d share the space. Maybe we could offer free rent to a medical care worker ? And it could all be in a village like concept with people of all ages.” Time and again after I give a talk people come up to me and ask about this housing and village idea. The reaction I get from 99% of most real estate developers is confusion. Instead of integrating a successfully designed older diverse community, it is dismissed. They can’t get past their version of a track homes community. I see it coming though. And it will catch these old fashioned developers by total surprise. Deep down in the basement laboratories of Design Your Age we’re working on such a community and will keep you posted.
On that photo shoot for the older community, I was asked if I knew of any older women who could model. I told them no problem, I knew of some beautiful women they could photograph. These women I know are timelessly beautiful. The continually create their lives on the stronger side of older. They are constantly, physically active no matter their physical limitation. They fiercely work at seeing what’s hopeful in the moment. They have a gorgeous outlook and attitude. They stay busy. They are as the songwriter sung, “Forever Young”. The strong side of older lives within them. So yes it can be a place where you live, but it starts by constructing a special state of mind.
I buried countless time capsules in my backyard when I was around 7 or 8 years old. I just thought it was coolest thing to come back in the future and find my treasure.
Mostly little toy figures in tin cans. I realize now there’s a treasure you have access to but you forget about digging it up. It’s not just filled with the treasures of gold memories of nostalgia. Forget. It’s a bigger lost idea of yourself.
I have featured this in my book DESIGN YOUR AGE,
What’s Best About You Never Ages.
Here’s 12 steps to finding your own personal treasure.
1. Face the mirror and walk through it.
This means audit your personal inventory to determine what you like about yourself. Here’s some ideas. Make a list of 10 things.
Your favorite color.
Your favorite food.
Your favorite rock song.
Your most memorable kiss.
Your first best sexual awakening
Your idea of what you wanted to be when you grew up.
Your first dance or for boys your first fight.
Your first trip away from home.
Your first time you did something you didn’t think you could.
Your first time you felt loved.
Or make your own list of what has been important to you in your life.
Now keep these things to yourself for a while.
2. Next, identify individuals who represented the best of who you wanted to be— when you were growing up that is. Try to remember which individuals you admired for the way they carried their lives, real or fictional. John Glenn,James Bond, Helen Keller, Elizabeth Taylor, Marie Curie etc. For me it was Danny Kaye. Who was it for you?
3. Overcome resistance: It’s not so tough. Don’t fold and give up. A warning! The negative limiting voices in your thoughts, along with the artificial culture we step in everyday is truly not relevant. Wake up. Don’t be a prisoner. You are the boss of YOU. Remember.
4. Laughing Your Age Off.
Another big secret here is remembering to relearn how to laugh your age off. This is where you are truly ageless. Want to look younger instantly? Smile. If you don’t laugh much, well either learn now or have a small child stomp on your foot. Smile again. Practice laughing. Yes you can do this in private to start.
5. “I Like The Way You Move”
While you are on your journey, learn to move again because you like the way you move. You did dance. Get out of your chair and just shake it wherever you are. So what if you get strange looks? Even better. You are losing big psychological calories you no longer need.
6. “PLAY AGAIN.”
Do you remember?
Run up a few stairs? Roll in the grass?
Get a board game to play with your significant other?
C’mon think about what’s real adventure for you now?
Put your fears on the shelf. They don’t serve you.
I’ll send you a permission slip. Just email me at email@example.com
7. Rethink where you want to live.
Don’t isolate yourself.
Wanna live near your kids? If you have no kids, how about being near others who share your joy of life. The process even works if you’ve been a hard-working hermit, like Santa, who just happens to come out in a big way once a year. A friend of mine told me about a couple that are 75 years young and they decided to move to Australia to start a new life.
8. Experiment Using Your Wisdom
It’s not about being respected or thinking you are a Smartass know-it-all—but do you possess wisdom. Mentor someone younger. Offer it to others. Find or Create a “Meet Up.” You will continue to learn no matter what.
9. STOP. Start Learning to Stop.
Truly learn to sit still. Stare at something beautiful outside. Look closely. Examine the details. Go sit some place beautiful. Activate the brakes and try, “Stopping.” Come to a complete stop at least once during the day. Shut everything the hell out. When you move again, everything will be so much better.
10. Service To Others.
Do you consider yourself a good person? Consider yourself a Godly person? Make a difference and be of service to at least one other person. I’d much rather help handing out Thanksgiving meals to the homeless than stuff myself at the table. Well, stuffing isn’t all bad, but helping others actually is a positively, positive thing to do. When you give to others, it boosts your immune system in a big way, and there’s scientific evidence to prove it.
11. Use Your Courage Muscle Not Your Fear Muscle.
How much time do you spend looking at fear based news? What are you doing to stay curious? What are you doing that is fresh and new? Learn something new. Realize it won’t kill you to try; it really won’t, as you will discover. Get out of that little snail shell. Your ancestors would be proud of you. They came a long way for you not to cower about anything. You’ve come to realize everyone is making it up, right?
12. The Most Important Thing You Can Do To Be Ageless.
Learn to fall in love again with learning. Practice. Do. We know so many ways to be happier and healthier. Moving our bodies. Eating more vegetables. Less sugar. More water. Little by little be the best you are now. Don’t think about how great it used to be. Practice how it can be great now. Count your blessings. I know this all might sound corny but make a list of what you are grateful for….your friends, children, where you sleep, all those that you love. You’ve got treasure. Now dig yourself up.
My Pal Sam: “I’m just too old”, I can’t wait until I go home.”
This pal of mine Sam was 65 as he looked into my eyes and qualified that “home” was actually “Heaven”.
Tuck : “Sam I can get you “home” today. There’s a gap in the fence off a cliff near the top of Mount Bonnell on Hwy 222. You could drive your car off that cliff this afternoon and be “home” this afternoon. Cause Sam, I really like some of the artwork at your house. You won’t be needing it after you go “home.”
I knew Sam could take the sarcasm. My mouth is triggered by individuals who give up on themselves and think it’s ok to say they are old. The stupid humor of “I’m so old my….fell off” is so old it stinks. I think it’s funnier to make fun of people who say they are too old.
So many individuals attack their own sense of self by announcing over and over again that they are too old. Not attractive or they define themselves by a physical limitation or chronic challenge. Dear God and the Universe I pray to never ever live there.
Here’s proof that what’s best about you never ages. Last weekend I met Tootsie Tomanetz, the 82 year old, Pitmaster of Snow’s Barbeque in Lexington, Texas. Great barbeque. Even more magnificent lady. She showed no aches and pains shoveling the hot fiery coals under the grate where the sausage was cooking.
“I don’t have time to think about what age I am. I’m too busy. My Daddy told me since I was a little girl “Keep working and you’ll be happy.” Tootsie said as she wiped her brow with a handkerchief. Ms. Tootsie is the poster child of what I call a Potential Being. She’s left her age behind and off to working on better things. Plus her real day job during the week is being a janitor over at the local high school.
Since the late 1960’s we’ve made YOUTH our God. The fear of aging runs rampant and plaster surgeons are out there to help nip and tuck you through your fear of aging (“Gerascophobia”). I say no matter what kinds of lotions, potions and surgeries you have, if you still think you are old, you’ll always be of the worst age.
Moving out of the known and try something of the unknown. That’s the best way to continue. Staying curious. Talk to those individuals that stay busy. Focus on creating or producing. That’s ageless stuff. It’s where the real Gold of living is mined. Get out there and dig some of it up. Find out what makes you feel useful again. I’ll be happy to help.
As far as my pal Sam is concerned, I saw him the following day.
Sam: “Tuck last night I had a talk with the Lord and he said “Enjoy the riches of life, right here and now.”
Tuck: “Damn I really wanted a couple of those paintings in your house.”
If you see any scary signs of aging yell “BOO” back into the mirror. Really give yourself a worthy scare by attempting to make something better of yourself.
Or reach out and helping someone else that is struggling. You’ll sleep like a baby.
Place: Patti Welder Junior High School Gymnasium –Victoria, Texas
Time: 7th Grade- P.E. Class with Coach Bohn -11 A.M.
“That’s 3 pops Kamin., ” said Coach Bohn, our P.E. instructor in a calm, matter of fact voice. That meant 3 whacks administered on your behind with a wooden paddle. What encouraged Coach Bohn to make his decision? While our class was standing below suspended ropes from the gym ceiling I decided to right there to initiate my career debut as a stand up comic. “Coach, are you going to climb the ropes too?” I smiling announced. No laughs came from my fellow P.E. class members. I bombed.
Coach Bohn had all the stage presence of being the formidable, evil twin of Curly from the 3 stooges. Burr haircut, feet slightly apart, his clipboard placed over his fireplug belly, dressed in his white gym shorts, T-shirt and whistle. The week before Coach Bohn had asked me, “Kamin are you member of the knucklehead club?” “Uh, no Sir” I said. Coach then heavily tapped the top of my head with his middle knuckle. “There you’re crowned. Nuk Nuk.”
Ugh! The un-fun side of school gym class was what defined all sports activity for me. I lettered in Drama class instead of football.
It wasn’t until I was 50, coming out of a divorce that I became an athlete. An amazing athletic amazing woman taught me to run. And with fits and starts and stops I still run. What I discovered at 50 were the outpouring rewards of sustained physical activity. Not just the sweat. The clearing and calming of my thoughts and my whole body. And I lost over 50 unwanted pounds. Holy Wow I now crave it.
I’m not suggesting you start Running. Just start moving.
Age Scientists consistently tell me that one of the strongest proven age retardants
is exercise. As vigorously as you can start moving your body. I’m not suggesting you start running. I am telling you that if you have the energy to make a pie, cake or whatever hypnotically sugar-fied, diabetic fortified dessert recipe you put on FACEBOOK then utilize that energy to move. You will love the lasting taste of accomplishing the act of building back your physical strength.
Bad knees? Problems with your legs? Get on the floor and move your body. Read about my friend Mark Zupan a wheel chair athlete. He’s in my book Design Your Age. Mark believes as I do that there is always a work around. Intimidating? Humiliating? Dear God what will I look like in Yoga pants? Be easy yourself. If you exercise patience you can get pass it.
Here’s some starter wisdom from one of my mentors, Beto Boggiano owner of Pure Austin. A fitness club in Austin, Texas.
Beto: “Start slowly.”
Too many people start off with too many high expectations. Attempting then failing an exercise they used to do. It’s de-motivating if they get too sore. They stop. They get motivated for a week, and then that motivation will die off. So start slow.
Being around other people that want to improve themselves, helps you stay motivated. That’s just a fact. That’s why home equipment doesn’t work.
*Secret Little Side Note here..
If you can afford it. Hire a trainer for two sessions. “Tell the trainer what you like and don’t like. But most of all tell a trainer you want to come back. Ask them to show you how to do something that will give you confidence to come back. Trainers tell me if they can get a person to come back twice, they are more likely to continue to get better physically.
Beto: Only 10% of the people going to the gym are going to be buff. Find the people you relate to with the same fitness goals. That’s 90% of the people in the gym.
Second secret side note:
It is also about stepping away from so much food we eat. Lots of meat, worthless carbohydrates, and sugars. You don’t need all that food you are now eating.
Tell the gym you are the most difficult member they could ever have. You need as many ways possible to encourage you to stay with it. A smart gym will help you with that.
Find a friend that will go with you. This is a big, big, big advantage. After time you will see results and go by yourself.
Don’t weigh yourself. Throw out your scale. Remember if you can combine physical activity with eating smarter. You are ahead of the game.
A number of studies have shown that exercise works as anti-depressant without the side effects.
(Atlantic Magazine March 24, 2014,)
For Depression, Prescribing Exercise Before Medication)… In 1999, a randomized controlled trial showed that depressed adults who took part in aerobic exercise improved as much as those treated with Zoloft.
I’m not suggesting you throw out your anti-depressant. However I am suggesting you try and keep trying to get up and move your body. And remember 70% of weight loss also has to do with what you eat, so try roasting vegetables. Try new spices. You can get out of your slump. Try and try and try again. Email me. I’ll always be your cheerleader here. I get the pom poms. But really I don’t know how they do it in these short skirts. God Bless Coach Bohn.